Nick Creech Three-P 1

Three-P, the fifth musketeer
By Nick Creech
Chapter 1
The word flew around Mickleburrow like a school of pilchards exploding before a
hungry bluefin tuna. Three-P that is to say! Pengelly Perce"al Puddle had really
done it this ti#e.
$beron heard it fro# his "alet. %e had &ust finished consulting his diary and was
choosing a bow tie suitable to the day's e"ents. %e was reaching forward! about to
select a sy#phony in royal blue silk with particularly regal gold stripes! one of his
fa"ourites! when his "alet began to whisper deferentially in his ear. $beron fro(e. )t
was too #uch! altogether too #uch. *ngrily! petulantly! he re&ected the blue tie and
chose instead a fierce scarlet. )t exactly #atched his co#plexion.
Titania heard it fro# her #aid and like $beron! first she was flabbergasted and then
furious. +he banged her crown on her head any old how! winced and #arched forth!
the pearls at her throat swinging aggressi"ely.
Mr and Mrs Puddle heard it fro# a neighbour! Mrs +tickybeak who was &ust
bursting with the news! and with barely suppressed glee. They looked at each other
resignedly.
,)'# going fishing!, Mr Puddle said in a low "oice and hurried off! ignoring Mrs
Puddle's s-awk of protest. Not knowing whether she was #ore upset by her son's
latest escapade or by her husband's cowardice in the face of it! she retreated into her
burrow to #ake a nice shell full of raw fish broth.
.ene"ie"e /ongbotto# was #incing down Main +treet attracting ad#iring glances
when she was stopped by a girlfriend.
,0ou'll ne"er guess, she said and began to chatter furiously. .ene"ie"e drew in a
long! delicious breath the better to sa"our the situation.
Nick Creech Three-P 1
The youngsters in school heard it fro# a late-co#er and the whispering spread until
the teacher! Miss 2eatherbrain! was forced to speak "ery sharply. %er na#e! not as you
#ight think! was actually a #ark of respect. Miss 2eatherbrain! a#ongst other things!
was a noted expert on the predatory habits of fur seals! so#ething with which all
young penguins needed to beco#e ac-uainted al#ost as soon as they could swi#.
%owe"er! e"en Miss 2eatherbrain describing the lightning lunge of one of the #ost
feared killers in the sea could not begin to co#pete with such a &uicy scandal.
*nd finally! Cassidy %opalong heard it fro# her #other who was sy#pathetic and
concerned! but secretly relie"ed. Perhaps now her daughter #ight see sense and
abandon her infatuation with that particular rapscallion but all Cassie could think was!
poor Three-P. 3hat will happen to hi#4
%owe"er! this is all getting far! far ahead of the story...
2ar down to the south! there is a s#all island! a secret island. $nce it was a &agged
#ountaintop spearing sharp out of the ocean but now it has been so worn down o"er
the ages that it is low and softly #ounded! so low that one #ight think the huge wa"es
dri"en by the winter stor#s of the southern ocean would drown it co#pletely. But
instead! the surf no #atter how #onstrous #ust break on the long! gradually rising
shel"es of rock! the bones of the #ountain. $"er thousands and thousands of years
they ha"e been pounded and ground down till they ha"e disappeared below the water
but they still extend far out beneath the surface!where they ring the island and still
pro"ide a barrier capable of defying e"en the worst of te#pests. *nd better still! these
undersea reefs and ledges are a #ass of wa"ing sea plants that tee# with fish of
different "arieties so that if you were a seal! or suchlike! you #ight think you had
found a #arine s#orgasbord.
*nd as the ancient #ountain top was gradually ground away it ac-uired a deep
layer of sandy loa#! which in turn had trapped seeds brought by passing birds so that
the gentle undulations of the island that re#ained were now layered thick with tufted
grass and #atted scrub! tough enough and resilient enough to anchor the soil against
the worst the stor#s could do. Better yet! the island had finally co#e to ac-uire the
shape of an hourglass. *t the southern end there was a low bluff and at the northern
end there was a tu#ble of rocks of all si(es! ancient scree now worn s#ooth and round
by the endless wa"es! but in the #iddle there were two! narrow inlets! one on either
side al#ost cutting the island in half! inlets that #eant whate"er the wind! there was
Nick Creech Three-P 5
always a safe landing place of con"eniently-stepped! rock ledges protected fro# the
wa"es. 2or a fairy penguin then! the place was paradise6 breakfast! lunch and dinner a
hop skip and a &u#p fro# your front door! and your front door! itself! and the deep
burrow behind it secure fro# the worst nature could do.
Not surprisingly! the island had ac-uired a #a&or colony and Mickleburrow! where
generation after generation of penguins had exca"ated their ho#es! and raised their
fa#ilies! had grown and grown until it was now a regular #etropolis full of bustling
life.
7eeping a careful eye out for lurking fur seals! Three-P shot across the shallows!
turned sharp left into 3est Bay and grounded hi#self on the sloping rocks of the
shore! being careful not to bruise the fine! plu#p #ackerel still wriggling in his beak.
)t was a fish he had gone to great trouble to select and catch! and for which he had
#ost serious plans. Three-P was in lo"e! at least he thought he was! at least he was
al#ost certain he was! at least he was fairly sure... and he had co#e to a #o#entous
decision. )t was ti#e to act! to declare hi#self.
%e huffled his feathers! s-uared his shoulders and was about to #arch off to
confront his fate when a "oice stopped hin.
,Now that's what ) call a #ackerel., Three-P swung sharply about to find hi#self
under the beady ga(e of a large seagull.
,.ully 8i#so#! young sir!, the bird said in calculating sort of "oice. ,*t your
ser"ice.,
Being a well brought up young penguin! Three-P nodded politely! unable to speak
as he was with the fish still in his beak.
,*llow #e to add!, the bird continued. ,+traight fro# the horse's #outh as it were6
.ully as in gull! gull as in gulling! gulling as in sil"er! sil"er as in fish. * "ery fine
fish!, he added. ,But the -uestion! young sir! the -uestion that #ust and will be
answered is6 are you gullible4,
Being -uite unaware of what gullible #ight #ean and still gagged by the fish in his
beak! Three-P nodded again.
,3ell young sir! in that case ) can confidently predict that what ) ha"e here will
fascinate and intrigue you., *nd .ully 8i#son gestured to the rock in front of hi#
Nick Creech Three-P 9
where three shells were sitting in a row. +lowly he lifted each shell in turn. :nder the
#iddle one was a s#all pebble.
,Now watch "ery carefully!, he said and as he spoke he began to shuffle the shells
rapidly about the rock.
,+o! young sir!, he said finally! looking up. ,where is the pebble now4 Tricky
-uestion! but one ) a# sure is well within your gifts.,
Three-P scratched his head and decided to put down the fish. This needed
concentration. *t last he pointed and with a theatrical flourish .ully 8i#son lifted the
chosen shell. *nd there indeed was the pebble. Three-P allowed hi#self a satisfied
s#irk.
,*nd was there e"er any doubt4, .ully 8i#son de#anded. ,$f course not! not with
a s#art young fella like you. But... but ) would #ake a s#all wager that you couldn't
do it a second ti#e.,
,* wager4, Three-P said hesitantly. .ully 8i#son reached behind hi# and brought
forth a strand of kelp. )t was beautiful if you liked that sort of thing! a clear transparent
green that shifted and shi##ered as it #o"ed against the light.
,Now! young sir! ) will wager #y #agnificent exa#ple of finest kelp that this ti#e
the swiftness of the shells will defeat your eye.,
,*nd what do ) ha"e to bet4, Three-P asked! suddenly careful.
,3hy! nothing young sir!, the gull said blandly. ,if you should win! then it is #y
#isfortune. +hould ) win! then ) shall ha"e the satisfaction of knowing ) ha"e defeated
two of the sharpest eyes in Mickleburrow., Three-P scratched his head! searching for
the catch.
,*ll right!, he said at last.
*gain .ully 8i#son slipped the pebble beneath one of the shells and began to
shuffle the# rapidly around the rock. Three-P felt his eyes crossing as he tried to stay
fixed on the pri(e. *t last! .ully 8i#son stopped and in"ited Three-P to choose. %e
thought long and hard! hesitated and finally picked the shell to his left. Not daring to
breathe! he watched intently as .ully 8i#son lifted the shell. There indeed was the
pebble and Three-P felt a triu#phant thrill. Mournfully! the gull passed across his
pri(ed piece of kelp.
Nick Creech Three-P ;
,Too good! young sir!, he said. ,Too good by half. But you #ust gi"e #e one last
chance at re"enge.,
,*ll right!, Three-P said confidently.
,*nd &ust to #ake it interesting! this ti#e it's your turn to put up the wager.,
,*ll right!, Three-P said again! but this ti#e rather #ore slowly. ,3hat4,
,3hy that fish you ha"e there! young sir!, .ully 8i#son said casually. ,3hat else4,
Three-P gulped. %e had worked hard! all #orning and well into the afternoon!
selecting and re&ecting to capture that particular #ackerel! but on the other flipper he
had already pro"ed that he couldn't lose! could he4 *nd it was only fair to gi"e the
seagull a chance to get e"en. Three-P nodded reluctantly and pushed the #ackerel
forward.
.ully 8i#son with an odd little -uirk of his head and knowing glint in his eye began
shuffling the shells again. Three-P stared and stared! clenching his feet and curling his
flippers in concentration. 3hen the #o"e#ent finally stopped! he stood there for a
long ti#e! thinking carefully. %e was sure he knew which shell hid the pebble but he
was deter#ined not to be too hasty! to #ake certain. *t last he pointed and .ully
8i#son lifted the shell.
,$h bad luck! young sir< +o close and yet so far., *nd without #ore ado! .ully
8i#son sei(ed the #ackerel and flew away! chuckling to hi#self.
Three-P was shocked. %e stood there clutching his head! hearing a distant echo of
his father.
,0ou pay to learn! son. 0ou pay to learn...,
+tupid! he said to hi#self angrily. +tupid< +tupid< +tupid< Pathetic< *bsolutely
pathetic< *nd what do ) do now4 The afternoon was drawing on and Three-P doubted
his chances of finding another #ackerel! let alone a splendid #ackerel! before
nightfall. %e could! of course! abandon his plan but ha"ing once ner"ed hi#self to the
sticking point he thought it unlikely he would e"er #anage to do it again if he faltered
now. %is eye fell on the abandoned piece of kelp. )t really was "ery fine! the green as
transparent as an e#erald and as softly radiant. $ne #ight search for a #onth to find
another piece to #atch it. Perhaps! Three-P thought! &ust perhaps it #ight #ake an
e"en #ore i#pressi"e gift. %e ca#e to a sudden decision! picked up the kelp and
#arched off.
Nick Creech Three-P =
.ene"ie"e /ongbotto# was #ost aptly na#ed. 2or generations her fa#ily had been
fa#ous for the length of their tail feathers! and .ene"ie"e herself was particularly well
endowed e"en by /ongbotto# standards. $f all the eligible young debutantes in
Mickleburrow that year! she was undoubtedly the #ost beautiful! -uite stunning! and
along with all the other young blades! Three-P was totally infatuated. Together with all
the others! he had spent #onths &ostling and stri"ing for her attention and had co#e to
think that possibly! &ust possibly! he was not now looked upon with total disfa"our. )f
e"er there was going to be a right ti#e to press his suit! then he had con"inced hi#self
it #ust be now. %e had intended the fish to open the way for his proposal... but when
you thought about it! the fish was a "ery ordinary sort of gift! not really a gift at all!
nothing that .ene"ie"e /ongbotto# couldn>t catch for herself. * #ost singular piece of
kelp on the other flipper! a rare piece of kelp! indeed "aluable! #ight be &ust the thing
to ele"ate hi# abo"e the ruck and #ake hi# irresistible.
*nd by the ti#e he'd worked his way to that point! Three-P had #anaged to
con"ince hi#self that the encounter with .ully 8i#son #ight ha"e been all for the
best. Now was indeed the #o#ent and it was up to hi# to sei(e it.
*s was her custo#! .ene"ie"e /ongbotto# was holding court a#ongst her
ad#irers down at the end of By-the-+ea Boule"ard where a pleasant little dell offered a
fine "iew out o"er the a(ure waters. +he was surrounded by eager suitors and behind
her there was a cluster of three or four girlfriends hoping for a lefto"er or two. $ne of
the# was Cassidy %opalong! whose real na#e! her fa#ily na#e! was actually
Catchalot! but because Cassie when "ery s#all had lost a leg to a seal! al#ost her life!
she had ine"itably ac-uired the nickna#e. $therwise she was an unre#arkable little
penguin! al#ost plain until one noticed her eyes which were full of kindness and gentle
#irth. +he wasn't there for &ust any old lefto"er! howe"er. +he had set her heart on one
particular penguin.
Three-P hesitated a #o#ent then pushed his way penguinfully through the crowd
"ying for attention.
,3hy Pengelly!, .ene"ie"e said when at last she deigned to notice hi#. ,%ow nice.
*nd what do you ha"e there4,
Now .ene"ie"e! it has to be said! was properly conscious of her derriere and
indeed! #ightily i#pressed by it. )t was not unusual to see her standing stock still and
Nick Creech Three-P ?
ad#iring her reflection in a pool. To us! tailfeathers a s#idgen longer than anybody
else's #ight see# a #atter of absolutely no i#portance but consider how #uch store
we set in a nose fractionally shorter than ours! and sweetly cur"ed. )t's still only a nose
but oh! how we wish it belonged to us.
*nd because .ene"ie"e was so pleased with herself it also has to be said that her
character was less than ad#irable. To put it bluntly! she was a stuck-up snob! only
interested in herself. +he ne"er had a thought or feeling that didn't begin or end with
the word ,),.
Three-P! conscious of the weight of the occasion! gra"ely laid his offering before
her. %e cleared his throat ner"ously! terribly aware of the hostile eyes of his ri"als
staring daggers at hi#.
,) ha"e co#e to ask you a -uestion!, he said! a slight catch in his "oice. %e paused!
expecting .ene"ie"e to offer so#e sort of encourage#ent. )nstead! she was ga(ing
with affront at the piece of kelp laid tenderly before her. +he wrinkled her beak.
,*nd what!, she de#anded in a petulant "oice. ,)s that4, Three-P gulped! but there
was nothing for it but to plough on.
,) hope..., he said hesitantly. ,*t least ) had hoped that you would accept it as a
token of #y estee#! #y "ery great estee#. ) had hoped to ask for your flipper in...,
Three-P ground to a halt. There was a titter fro# the back of the crowd.
,0ou what4<, .ene"ie"e exclai#ed. %er "oice began to rise progressi"ely until it
reached all the way to a shriek. ,0ou co#e here with a dirty old piece of seaweed
anyone could ha"e picked up on the shore and you ha"e the ner"e! the un#itigated
gall! to ask #e to #arry you. )n front of e"eryone. )'"e ne"er been so hu#iliated in all
#y life. * dirty old piece of seaweed< 3ho do you think you're talking to4 8ust who do
you think you're talking to4 *re you trying to #ake #e a laughing stock4 3ell let #e
tell you so#ething! Pengelly Perce"al Puddle. ) wouldn't #arry you if you were the
last penguin in Mickleburrow...,
.ene"ie"e was wrong about one thing! howe"er. +he wasn't the laughing stock!
Three-P was. The original titter expanded into giggles and then swelled until the whole
crowd was roaring! slapping each other on the back and e"en rolling about on the
ground! gasping and spluttering.
Three-P stood there shocked! then slowly he began to turn cri#son with sha#e and
e#barrass#ent. )t was the worst #o#ent of his life! absolutely! positi"ely! the worst.
Nick Creech Three-P @
%e wanted only one thing! for the rocks to clea"e open and swallow hi# whole like
so#e giant seal! or #aybe an orca if an orca could e"er be bothered to swallow such a
pitiful little #outhful.
$nly two other penguins weren't laughing. .ene"ie"e /ongbotto#'s face was
fro(en in an expression of loathing and conte#pt. +lowly she raised her flipper and
with "ast disdain #otioned Three-P fro# her sight! fore"er. Cassie! too! watched hi#
go uns#iling! her heart aching! breaking. )f only Three-P had proposed to her! but how
could he when he didn't e"en know she existed4 * tear slipped down her cheek. Three-
P! the chance to see hi#! possibly e"en one day to talk to hi#! was the only reason that
Cassie had e"er hung around .ene"ie"e's crowd in the first place. 2ollowing a sudden
i#pulse! she eased her way out of the group and skirting round the edge! set off in
pursuit! but in the #eanti#e! Three-P had #anaged to -uite disappear.
.ene"ie"e watched her go with great disfa"our. Traitor! she thought. There will
ha"e to be punish#ent.
Cassie finally found Three-P right at the southern end of the island! as far fro#
Mickleburrow as it was possible to get. %ere there was a low bluff which dropped
sheer to the sea below. Three-P was standing! #iserably hunched! right at the edge.
,Aon't &u#p!, Cassie said. ,Please don>t &u#p.,
Three-P looked at her dully. ,) wasn>t going to!, he said. ,) was &ust wishing ) could
fly! fly away...,
,3here to4,
,) don>t know!, he said in a "oice so low that she could barely hear. ,*nywhere.
*nywhere away fro# here. Aoes it #atter4,
,0es! it does!, Cassie said.
,3hy4, Three-P said without interest. ,3ho cares4,
,) do., Three-P looked at her for the first ti#e! with a total lack of recognition.
,Cassie!, she said with a sigh. ,Cassidy %opalong.,
,$h yes!, he said! dropping his beak back on his chest. Three-P had! of course! long
been aware of Cassie. 3ith her strange gait she did rather stand out fro# the crowd but
beyond the odd! rather nasty s#ile Three-P had ne"er paid her any attention.
,) can ne"er go back!, he #u#bled e"entually.
,$f course you can!, she said fir#ly.
,Ne"er!, he #uttered. ,Ne"er... ne"er...,
Nick Creech Three-P B
,But what about your parents4,
Three-P said nothing! then he shrugged. )t was on the tip of Cassie>s tongue to say6
*nd what about #e4 But she &ust #anaged to stop herself. +he lingered for a long ti#e
but e"entually! when Three-P had failed to gi"e any indication that he #ight e"er #o"e
again! she sadly took herself off. *nd all the way ho#e! all she heard was penguin
after penguin busily repeating and e#broidering the story of Three-P>s ab&ect
hu#iliation.
Penguins are so cruel! she thought to herself! so cruel.
Three-P was -uite sure his heart was broken ne"er to be #ended. %e replayed the
whole ghastly scene o"er and o"er again. %e was certain that ne"er before had a
penguin being so sha#ed before such a gathering and he was e-ually certain that
ne"er again would he be able to face the#.
The sun finally decided it had had enough nonsense for one day and slipped below
the hori(on! lea"ing the sky to flare as red raw as Three-P>s e#otions.
,2eeling sorry for oursel"es then! are we! young sir4, The "oice was all too
fa#iliar. Three-P did his best to ignore it but felt a sudden! sharp peck on his shoulder.
,) asked you a -uestion!, .ully 8i#son said re#orselessly.
,7indly keep your beak to yourself!, Three-P said! feeling the first stirrings of
anger.
,Think you>re the first penguin to e"er get the brush off! do you4,
,0ou swindled #e!, Three-P said! straightening up a bit. ,This is all your fault.,
,My fault< *nd did ) #ake you do anything you didn>t want to do4,
There was a long silence as Three-P thought about it. )n the end! he had to ad#it it
was true. %e could ha"e said no! at any ti#e.
,*nd let #e ask you this! young sir. The kelp was beautiful! wasn>t it4,
Three-P could only agree.
,3hich #ust #ean that the young lady penguin in -uestion is only interested in our
#aterial goods! the fish we can pro"ide4,
Three-P thought about that! and in the end! again! could only agree.
,+o!, .ully 8i#son continued. ,3e now #ust ask! are we the sort of penguin who
would choose to spend our life with so#eone only interested in how #uch fish we can
catch4,
Celuctantly! Three-P shook his head.
Nick Creech Three-P 1D
,3hich lea"es us where! young sir4 :pset because what we thought the worthy
ob&ect of our affections chose to #ake a fool of us4 * narrow escape! ) call that. * "ery
lucky escape.,
2or the first ti#e! Three-P turned to look at the seagull.
,*nd one last -uestion! young sir. Ao we really care what that bunch of no-hopers
thinks about anything4,
$n her way ho#e! Cassie stopped at the Puddle>s burrow and honked. Mrs Puddle
ca#e hurrying to the entrance! looking anxious +he had ob"iously heard about Three-
P>s latest cala#ity.
,$h... Cassie!, she said! disappointed.
,)t>s all right! Mrs Puddle!, she said. ,%e>s all right. %e>s up at the bluff.,
,$h! thank you. Thank you! Cassie... 3ere you there4 3as it really awful4,
,Pretty bad!, Cassie said. ,0ou know what that .ene"ie"e is like...,
,$h dear!, Mrs Puddle said. ,$h dear! oh dear. ) kept telling hi# she was all wrong
for hi#! but would he listen4 3ould he listen4 No he would not. +o stubborn. $h
Cassie! if only you... do you think there>s any chance...4,
,) don>t think so! Mrs Puddle!, Cassie said unco#fortably. ,) don>t think he e"en
knows ) exist.,
,But couldn>t you...4 No... ) don>t suppose you could...,
)t was well after dark and Mickleburrow was fast asleep by the ti#e Three-P found
his way ho#e! so#ething for which he was profoundly grateful. )t was all "ery well
for that seagull! .ully 8i#son! to talk tough but bruised as he was! Three-P had no
wish to see anyone. %e found his way to his own fa#iliar cha#ber in his parent>s
fa#iliar burrow and fell into an exhausted sleep.
Nick Creech Three-P 11
Chapter 1
)n the #orning! Three-P woke! as he usually did! to pleased expectation of the day
ahead. )t didn>t last long. The e"ents of the past 19 hours ca#e flooding back in a rush.
%e was &ust about to bury his head again when his #other! who had been waiting for
hi# to stir! ca#e bustling in with a shell full of raw fish broth.
,)t>s a lo"ely day!, she said brightly. ,*nd your father>s gone fishing already. :p
with the lark! so to speak.,
Three-P looked at her sharply. They both knew that gi"en a choice! his father
preferred to sleep late. There could only be one reason he had disappeared early and
without any of the usual fuss6 fear of ridicule. .lu#ly! Three-P took the proffered
broth and sipped at it unenthusiastically. Then! unable to think of an excuse for putting
off the e"il #o#ent! he took the e#pty shell to the kitchen! suffered his #other to peck
hi# goodbye on the cheek and headed for the door.
$utside! he paused and breathed deeply. %e had no idea what to expect but was
pretty sure that life would be unpleasant! certainly for the next few days. $h well! he
thought! let>s get on with it. %e s-uared his shoulders and was about to #arch off when
a shy! little "oice stopped hi#.
,%ullo..., Three-P turned. )t was Cassie! who had ob"iously been waiting for hi#.
,$h! hullo!, Three-P replied uncertainly.
,) thought perhaps...,
,3hat4, Three-P said after a #o#ent.
Cassie took her courage in both flippers.
,) thought you #ight like so#e co#pany.,
,$h!, Three-P said and then! ,*ll right. )f you like...,
Together and they walked down /a#prey /ane! turned into Cockle +treet and then
into Main +treet which would take the# on to the water. That is to say! Three-P walked
and Cassie hopped along beside hi# trying unsuccessfully to #ake con"ersation. *t
the botto# of Main +treet! a group of young! loutish penguins were standing around
doing nothing in particular. 3hen they saw Cassie and Three-P they suddenly sorted
the#sel"es into two lines so that anyone wanting to get to the water would ha"e to
pass between the#. Cassie faltered.
,3hat4, Three-P said.
,$h! nothing!, Cassie said in a low "oice.
,3hat do they want4 3hat are they doing4,
Nick Creech Three-P 11
,8ust ignore the#!, Cassie said. ,They only shout at #e. )t doesn>t #atter. )># used
to it. They ha"en>t done it for a while...,
,Aone what! exactly4, Three-P de#anded! co#ing to a halt.
,They &ust like to gi"e #e a hard ti#e!, Cassie said. ,They think )># funny! because
)>"e only got one foot! so they... 8ust ignore the#. Please. $r it>ll be worse.,
Three-P looked at her hard. ,They bully you4 8ust because you...4,
,)># used to it!, Cassidy said again. +he shrugged.
,3ell )># not!, Three-P said! beginning to get angry. 8ust then! one of the young
toughs chose to shout at the#6
,Co#e on! %opsy... %op-along there! .y#pie. Aon>t keep us waiting... *nd co#e
on! lo"erboy! you too. Co#e and take your #edicine... ,
Three-P glared at the#! and off in the not-so distance he saw so#eone else.
.ene"ie"e /ongbotto# was watching intently. Three-P ca#e to a sudden decision. 8ust
there! the path dropped down a rise before reaching the rocks where the gauntlet of
young thugs was waiting for the#. Before Cassie could say anything #ore or #o"e to
stop hi#! Three-P launched hi#self.
%e tore down the track and was at full speed when he reached the waiting gang.
/ifting both his flippers to shoulder height and with unstoppable #o#entu#! he raced
between the#! his flippers slapping each head as he passed... ba#! pow! s#ack! s#ack!
crash! wha#...
Penguins went flying right and left! bowled o"er like ninepins. )t was a rout! a
#assacre! total "ictory.
Three-P ca#e to a halt! turned and sur"eyed his "icti#s! struggling to their feet.
,*nd if any of you bother Cassie e"er again! &ust watch out! that>s all!, he roared at
the#. ,0ou &ust watch out.,
Cassie ca#e hopping down the path towards hi#! her eyes shining! but Three-P was
already #o"ing away.
,+ee you later!, he called! and wa"ed a flipper. 3ithout #ore ado! he di"ed into the
water and was gone! lea"ing Cassie standing on the rocks! alone and suddenly forlorn.
+he was still standing there when .ene"ie"e ca#e up behind.
,0ou can>t ha"e hi#<, she said.
,3hat4<, Cassie said! spinning round.
,) said! you can>t ha"e hi#.,
,But you>"e du#ped hi#. 0ou said you wouldn>t #arry hi# if he was the last
penguin in Mickleburrow...,
Nick Creech Three-P 15
,That was &ust to teach hi# #anners! and you can>t ha"e hi#. %e>s #ine.,
,But that>s awful!, Cassie said. ,0ou can>t treat hi# like that...,
,Mind your own business!, .ene"ie"e snapped! and stalked off. )t occurred to
Cassie that .ene"ie"e>s abrupt change of heart could only ha"e been brought about by
Three-P>s rout of the louts. %e was suddenly extre#ely desirable. *nd then! Cassie
began to wonder whether it had been .ene"ie"e who had put the gang up to
a#bushing her in the first place and the #ore she thought about it the #ore certain she
beca#e.
Three-P went cruising off with no particular destination in #ind! happily reli"ing
the recent battle. %e was about to s#ack the first of the gang s-uare on the beak all
o"er again! when he! hi#self! felt a sharp blow on the back of his head and so#ething
rebounded into the water beside hi# a second later. )t was a shell. $h no! Three-P
thought. Not again. %e rolled o"er onto his back and there! ho"ering abo"e hi#! was
.ully 8i#son.
,3ho are you bo#bing4, Three-P de#anded crossly.
,0ou.,
,3hat do you want now4,
,2or you to beha"e like a decent penguin!, the seagull snapped back.
,3hat do you #ean4,
,8ust what ) say.,
,3hat ha"e ) done...4, Three-P found that yet again .ully 8i#son had put hi#
s-uarely on the defensi"e in the shortest possible ti#e.
,*ll "ery well protecting a lady for fi"e #inutes! but then you abandon her. 3ho>s
to say they won>t start bullying her all o"er again4,
,They wouldn>t dare!, Three-P said.
,3hy not4, .ully 8i#son said. ,0ou>re not there. 3hat could you do about it4,
Three-P stopped swi##ing and lay their floating on his back.
,$h! all right!, he said with extre#ely bad grace. %e turned about and headed back
to the landing place. Cassie was still standing near the water! staring thoughtfully at the
ground. Three-P could see so#e of the gang still hanging around in the background.
,%ey!, he honked. ,0ou>d better co#e with #e for a while! in case they co#e back.,
Cassie looked up and suddenly s#iled.
,Ceally4, she said.
,%urry up. )># hungry and the fish won>t wait fore"er.,
Nick Creech Three-P 19
Cassie hopped awkwardly down to the edge and then a #agical transfor#ation took
place. +he di"ed into an onco#ing wa"e with perfect ti#ing and slid elegantly through
the water to where Three-P was waiting. %e was surprised.
,) didn>t know you could swi# like that!, Three-P said ad#iringly. $f course! all
fairy penguins are #ore than co#petent in their natural ele#ent! but as with all things!
so#e are better than others and Cassie was truly talented! perhaps to #ake up for her
#issing foot. No longer was she funny! little Cassidy %opalong! but Cassidy Catchalot!
dae#on of the deep.
That day! there was a south-easterly blowing and the swell was curling around the
botto# of the island and running along the western shore in long! breaking co#bers!
the sort of surf perfect for a wa"e-rider. The two little creatures swung wide past the
break! darted across the reefs! and plunged down the flanks of the undersea #ountain
to one of the deeper plateaux. * school of baby tre"ally swa# into "iew and with one
accord the two penguins flashed into action. Cassie scored easily but Three-P! #uch to
his e#barrass#ent! #issed co#pletely.
Back on the surface! the little fish still wriggling in her beak! Cassie looked at
Three-P rather ner"ously. +he was sure like any #ale he would be angry and put out!
but he &ust laughed.
,+er"es #e right!, he said.
,3hy4, Cassie said with her beak full.
,2or thinking that boys are auto#atically better than girls!, Three-P said. %e di"ed
down again and a while later he too surfaced with a fish.
*s they frolicked away the #orning! Three-P was surprised to realise that he was
en&oying hi#self. %is hu#iliation of the pre"ious day now see#ed of s#all
conse-uence and this little Cassidy %opalong was turning out to be lots of fun.
2urther#ore! she really was excellent in the water! to the point where Three-P was
hard-pressed to #atch her. $nce they lea"e the land! penguins don>t so #uch swi# as
fly and e"erything a bird can do in the air a penguin can do underwater. *s ti#e went
by! Three-P e"en began to suspect that Cassie #ight be holding back a fraction! so as
not to e#barrass hi#. Twice he put it to the test and twice Cassie pulled out of a
#anoeu"re that would ha"e left hi# looking "ery foolish had she continued.
,Aon>t do that!, Three-P said at last! co#ing to the surface.
,3hat4, Cassie said innocently.
,Pretend )># better than you. )># not..., Cassie regarded hi#! her eyes "ery wide.
Nick Creech Three-P 1;
,Not e"en a little bit4 * tiny little bit4, Three-P laughed and #ade to duck her
again! but this ti#e he was -uite unable to catch her and he was so engrossed in the
ga#e it was only when he suddenly found hi#self nose to nose with a dolphin! that he
realised they were no longer alone.
Now to us! dolphins are fascinating! indeed lo"able! ani#als. 2airy penguins!
howe"er! ha"e a "ery different point of "iew. They treat dolphins with distrust "erging
on loathing. 0ou see! in the first place! dolphins are a different colour-- a dull!
unattracti"e grey co#pared with the penguins> delicate! slate blue with white
underpinning. *nd in the second place! they>re a fri"olous lot! fin-loose and fancy free!
ga#bolling away their li"es with no thought to the future! ne"er #ind #aking a decent
burrow and raising their children to be upright! responsible citi(ens. *nd worst of all!
fairy penguins are well aware that dolphins regard the# as thoroughly boring little
creatures -uite beneath their notice! unless to be tor#ented for so#e passing! light
entertain#ent.
:h oh! Three-P thought. %ere>s trouble. *nd an instant later! the trouble had
doubled and doubled again. Three-P now found hi#self surrounded by four dolphins
swi##ing in a la(y circle. 2or the second ti#e that day he began to worry about
Cassie. +he! howe"er! e"en though en&oying their ga#e had stayed rather #ore alert.
+he had heard the dolphins co#ing and had #anaged to slide away without being
spotted.
,+o a hey-nonny-nonny the nonce!, the lead dolphin began. ,3hat do we ha"e
here4 * penguin! ) declare. * fairy penguin. But is it a gay fairy penguin4 This #ust be
disco"ered. *ll #ust be disco"ered., Three-P>s heart sank. * gang of penguin bullies
was one thing! a pod of large! bottlenose dolphins! each about 9DD ti#es his weight!
was -uite another.
,+wi# for it! Cassie<, he honked desperately. ,+wi# for it< .o ho#e<, %e heard
her begin to protest.
,Ao it< he honked as loudly and as urgently as he could. ,Aon>t argue< Ao it<,
,+uch a noisy little thing!, one of the other dolphins re#arked.
,Needs to learn so#e #anners...,
,Penguin football! ) think!, the lead dolphin said &udiciously. ,0es. Aefinitely
penguin football.,
,0ou #ean fin ball...,
,Nose ball...,
,+#ack-it-with-your-tail ball...,
Nick Creech Three-P 1=
:h oh! Three-P thought again. %e didn>t like the sound of s#ack-it-with-your-tail
ball the least little bit but he had no #ore ti#e to worry about it. * dolphin nose slid
beneath hi# and an instant later he found hi#self flying high in the sky! which for a
penguin is -uite unthinkable.
Three-P should ha"e been terrified. )nstead! astonished! he found the experience
intoxicating. %e rose and rose and the higher he went the #ore ti#e see#ed to slow.
There was Cassie! well away now and watching with a shocked expression on her face.
%e wa"ed gaily and honked with glee. Now his cli#b was losing speed! stopping. Now
he was hanging weightless for what see#ed like hours. *nd now he was plunging back
down in a way that was totally exhilarating. %e e"en had ti#e to disco"er that by
#o"ing his wings as he would in the water he could control his di"e. )nstead of
s#acking down in a dreadful bellyflop! he clea"ed cleanly through the surface and
ca#e up whooping.
,Ao it again<, %e honked at the dolphins. ,Ao it again. Ao it again.,
Nothing loath! one of the dolphins flipped hi# up and again Three-P found hi#self
spearing high into the sky. This ti#e he could see Cassie swi##ing fast for
Mickleburrow! which was a pity he thought. +he would ha"e en&oyed this if only they
had known! but then #aybe not. +he was &ust a girl after all. *nd and then he forgot all
about her in the pleasure of the #o#ent! #anaging a so#ersault with full twist as he
descended. The dolphins were regarding hi# with astonish#ent when he surfaced and
one e"en applauded with his flippers.
,My! #y! a "ery gay fairy penguin!, the leader said. ,* "ery gay fairy penguin
indeed. *llow #e to introduce #yself. ) a# d>*rtagnan., %e gestured towards the
others. ,*nd this is *thos... Porthos... and *ra#is. 3e are the 2our Musketeers., The
other dolphins bowed in turn.
,Pengelly Perce"al Puddle at your ser"ice!, Three-P said. ,Better known as Three-P.
But as #usketeers! shouldn>t you be swordfish4, he de#anded.
,$h! "ery sharp!, Porthos chortled.
,+harp as a rapier...,
,+o sharp he>ll cut hi#self...,
,Blood in the water...,
,+harks...,
,%ungry sharks...,
,Poor little penguin...,
,*ll gone...,
Nick Creech Three-P 1?
,+o tragic...,
The dolphins were swi##ing in that la(y circle again and Three-P was going di((y
trying to follow the con"ersation as it flowed about hi#.
,Talking of hungry..., d>*rtagnan said.
,Eery hungry..., Porthos said.
,*lways hungry..., *thos and *ra#is finished together.
,Bubble netting!, d>*rtagnan said. ,Ti#e to go bubble netting.,
,3hat>s that4, Three-P said.
,3hat>s bubble netting...4,
,%e doesn>t know about bubble netting...,
,+uch ignorance...,
,+uch innocence...,
,+o depri"ed...,
,%e #ust be educated...,
,Fle"ated...,
,Flucidated...,
,Flongated...,
,$h! ) do hope not!, Three-P said. ,That sounds painful.,
,$nward!, d>*rtagnan said. ,Before we star"e to death.,
The group turned as one for the open ocean! the dolphins swi##ing slowly enough
for Three-P to keep up! and deployed in line abreast to co"er as #uch ground as
possible. Three-P was as happy as he>d e"er been and he was delighted when he
happened to be the first to spot a fine school of albacore tuna setting the surface of the
sea aboil. %e then watched in a#a(e#ent as the 2our Musketeers set about catching
their lunch.
The tuna were the#sel"es hunting a school of pilchards and had no idea they were
about to beco#e the hunted. The dolphins slid into the depths and soon a series of air
bubbles began to pop up to the surface. They started out wide and began to cur"e
inwards in a spiral! the curl growing tighter and tighter! herding the tuna into a s#aller
and s#aller space! until they were all corralled! see#ingly with no chance of escape.
Confused by the strea#s of bubbles surrounding the#! the fish #illed about until
suddenly! the dolphins exploded into their #idst wreaking ha"oc.
*t last! the dolphins had dined sufficient. 3hat re#ained of the tuna were allowed
to disappear and the 2our Musketeers regathered about Three-P. *thos was still
grasping a large fish.
Nick Creech Three-P 1@
,3e brought this for you!, d>*rtagnan said.
,:#..., Three-P said! nonplussed. The fish was bigger than he was. ,Thank you.
Thanks awfully...,
,*h! ) see!, *ra#is said. 3ithout #ore ado! he also sei(ed the tuna and together! he
and *thos wrestled it apart until they had pulled it into s#all enough pieces for Three-
P to #anage. %e had ne"er had tuna before. )t was delicious! absolutely delicious.
,3e learned bubble netting fro# a whale!, d>*rtagnan said. ,* hu#pback.,
,* fine fella...,
,Fxcellent chap...,
,Master fisher#an...,
,%ear hear..., Three-P said enthusiastically! his beak full. *t last! replete! he rolled
o"er and lay there! floating on his back! rocking gently with the wa"es.
,)sn>t life &ust wonderful4, he asked the world at large.
/ater! after a long afternoon siesta! the dolphins decided they should escort Three-P
ho#e to Mickleburrow. The island had &ust hea"ed o"er the hori(on when a bird ca#e
plu#etting out of the sky and splashed down in front of the#. )t was .ully 8i#son.
,3hy .ully!, Three-P said bene"olently. ,3hat brings you here4,
,0ou do!, .ully snapped. ,0ou are in so #uch trouble...,
,3hy4 3hat ha"e ) done4,
,$ur little penguin...4, d>*rtagnan began.
,$ur innocent young friend...4,
,$ur #ascot...4,
,$ur co#rade...4,
,*nd you lot can stop with the nonsense right now!, .ully told the dolphins crossly.
,)t>s all your fault...,
,%e says it>s our fault...,
,Can he be serious...4,
,+urely not...,
,+ay it ain>t so...,
,3e are bla#eless as the day is long...,
,0ou were using hi# as a football! weren>t you4, .ully de#anded.
,Perhaps...,
,Possibly...,
,*l#ost certainly...,
Nick Creech Three-P 1B
,Aepending on your point of "iew...,
,*nd Cassie thought they were going to kill you!, .ully told Three-P. ,+o she went
to get help. 2ro# Mickleburrow. *nd now they>re all hunting for you. Aeter#ined to
sa"e you.,
,But ) don>t need sa"ing!, Three-P said! bewildered. ,*s you see! )># perfectly all
right. )n fact! ne"er better.,
,*nd if you tell the# that!, .ully said. ,Then they>ll kill you the#sel"es. The whole
town has spent hours searching for you.,
,But..., Three-P began.
,+o you lot ha"e to disappear!, .ully ordered the dolphins. ,*nd as for you!, he
added to Three-P. ,Tell the# you got lost or so#ething. Tell the# you were kidnapped.
That>s it! tell the# you were kidnapped and only #anaged to escape &ust now...,
,But that>s not true!, Three-P said.
,3hat>s that got to do with anything4, .ully said. ,This is an e#ergency.,
,But ) ha"en>t done anything wrong!, Three-P insisted. ,*nd e"en if ) had! )
wouldn>t lie. This is &ust a #isunderstanding.,
,2ear not!, d>*rtagnan began. ,3e shall acco#pany you...,
,3e shall explain...,
,3e shall con"ince...,
,3e shall #ake the# see the error of their ways...,
,$h no!, .ully 8i#son said. ,That>s the worst possible thing. 0ou know how
penguins feel about dolphins.,
,*nd that>s &ust silly! plain stupid!, Three-P said angrily.
,%ear hear...,
,Guite...,
,*bsolutely...,
,Bra"o...,
Nick Creech Three-P 1D
Chapter three
The closer they got to Mickleburrow! the noisier things beca#e. Penguins were
e"erywhere! honking Three-P>s na#e. )t was clear the whole town had rallied to the
cause. There were hundreds of penguins thrashing about! thousands! or so it see#ed.
*t last! one of the# got a beak full of water and stopped honking long enough to
realise that the ob&ect of all this searching was there! right in front of hi#.
,%e>s here< %e>s here<, the penguin shouted triu#phantly. The cry was instantly
taken up by those about and spread rapidly! far and wide. )n an instant! Three-P found
hi#self at the centre of an anxious gathering.
,)># fine! )># fine!, he kept saying. ,Nothing happened. F"erything>s all right. )>#
fine. )># fine..., But there was so #uch noise! nobody could hear hi# and e"en if they
could! they weren>t about to belie"e hi#. )f the whole town had been called out! then it
stood to reason that he couldn>t possibly be all right. The situation was #uch too
serious for nothing to ha"e happened.
*t last! the tu#ult began to subside and then a way opened through the struggling
#ass and $beron and Titania swa# regally into the centre of the circle. Titania had left
her crown back at the Palace Burrow but ne"ertheless was still wearing her pearls!
naturally. $beron for the purposes of this search and rescue #ission! "ery nearly a
#ilitary operation after all! had chosen a bow tie with a striking grey! blue and white
ca#ouflage pattern. %e felt it lent hi# an air of a co##and #ost appropriate to the
occasion. $beron waited for silence and then spoke in his #ost sonorous tones.
,* triu#ph!, he declared. ,* triu#ph for Mickleburrow. 3e ha"e sa"ed Pengelly
Perce"al Puddle fro# a terrible fate.,
,* triu#ph indeed!, Titania echoed.
,3hat do you ha"e to say! young Pengelly4, $beron continued! so#ewhat put out
at his wife>s atte#pt to share the glory.
,Me4, Three-P said! bewildered.
,Co#e on! boy!, $beron said. ,Aon>t be bashful. +peak up now.,
,But... but...,
$beron turned to the crowd about and raised his "oice e"en #ore.
,%e>s o"erco#e! o"erwhel#ed! unable to speak. )f he could! he would offer his
undying gratitude for our courage in sa"ing hi# fro# those dastardly dolphins. * near-
run thing... a #ost narrow s-ueak..., 3hereupon he was interrupted by a "ery wide
s-ueak! the broadest of s-ueaks. The 2our Musketeers had chosen that #o#ent to
Nick Creech Three-P 11
erupt fro# the depths and grinning hugely were s-ueaking for all they were worth. $h
no! Three-P thought. Not now. Cassie! who had pushed her way through to the front
row! hid her eyes in horror.
$beron recoiled in shock and then recollecting his august position! began to flail at
the dolphins with his flippers! shouting6
,Thie"es< Cobbers< Murderers< *ssassins<,
)n an instant! the four dolphins swi##ing in their la(y circle had hi# isolated and
totally at their #ercy.
,Ao you think he>s talking about us4, A>*rtagnan began.
,+urely not..., *thos said.
,:s4, Porthos said.
,*ssassins...4, *ra#is said.
,+o cruel...,
,+o un&ust...,
,+o wrong...,
,3e are bla#eless...,
,Playful! perhaps...,
,%igh-spirited...,
,F"en #ischie"ous...,
,But assassins...4,
,/ibel...,
,+lander...,
,Aefa#ation...,
,Aownright character assassination...,
,Cetribution is re-uired...,
,Punish#ent...,
,Penance...,
,%is portliness #ust pay..., $beron! who had been listening open-beaked in
astonish#ent! began to splutter. :ndeniably! he was a fine figure of a penguin! but
portly4 %e had ne"er been so insulted in all his life. )t was outrageous! si#ply
outrageous.
,Now look here!, he began in his sternest "oice! but got no further.
,Biggest splash wins!, d>*rtagnan said.
,$h goody...,
,0ou first...,
Nick Creech Three-P 11
,Bo#bs away...,
*nd before anyone could inter"ene and like Three-P before hi#! $beron suddenly
found hi#self hurtling up in the air! but unlike Three-P! $beron -uite failed to rise to
the occasion! so to speak. )nstead of re"elling in this new experience! he panicked!
flailing and flapping -uite out of control until he hit the water again flat on his tu##y
and with a #ost dreadful wallop. Three-P rushed forward and pushed his way into the
circle of dolphins.
,+top it<, he shouted. ,+top it< +top it< 0ou #ust stop it. 0ou can>t do this to
$beron.,
,3hy e"er not4, d>*rtagnan said in surprise. ,)t didn>t bother you.,
,But )># not the king.,
,7ing4, *ra#is said.
,%e>s a king4,
,7ing of what4,
,7ing of Mickleburrow!, Three-P said! desperately. ,%e>s king of the penguins and
you #ustn>t treat hi# like this.,
,3hy is he the king4, *ra#is wanted to know.
,%e>s the fattest...,
,The slackest...,
,The all-round whackiest...,
$beron turned pink with e#otion! then bright red. %e suddenly stopped gasping and
spluttering.
,%ow dare you4, he shouted in fury. ,%ow dare you4,
,%ow dare we4, *thos began but before the dolphins could begin another round of
their circular con"ersation! Three-P cut in.
,Please!, he said urgently. ,Please! please! don>t tease the king. *s a fa"our to #e!
please...,
,* fa"our!, d>*rtagnan said. ,%e wants a fa"our...,
,%e is our friend...,
,$ur co#rade in ar#s...,
,$ur co#rade in flippers...,
,* fa"our he shall ha"e...,
,$h thank you!, Three-P said gratefully.
Nick Creech Three-P 15
,+ee you soon!, d>*rtagnan said and in an instant the dolphins had di"ed deeper
than any penguin could hope to reach and had disappeared. Three-P was left anxiously
eyeing a wrathful $beron.
,Aid they say friend4 Aid they say co#rade4, $beron de#anded.
,Fr..., Three-P began ner"ously. %e was beginning to realise that he was in trouble
deep enough to drown hi#.
,$nly in a #anner of speaking!, a new "oice said! a coarse! raucous "oice. )t was
.ully 8i#son apparently appearing out of nowhere! but who had been ho"ering
o"erhead the whole ti#e. %e bowed gra"ely to $beron! and again to Titania.
,0our highness and your #a&esty! forgi"e the intrusion but with your per#ission )
feel ) #ust explain., $beron! so#ewhat #ollified by the cere#onial! nodded regally.
,*s a witness to the whole episode! ) can tell you that had it not been for Three-P!
those dastardly dolphins would ha"e caused infinitely #ore distress and da#age. 0ou
#ust understand that at great risk to hi#self and instead of fleeing when first attacked!
as any penguin less courageous would surely ha"e done! Three-P set out to lure the
dolphins away fro# Mickleburrow! fro# all of you! by pretending friendship...,
,But ) wasn>t pretending..., Three-P tried to protest only to swallow a beak-full of
water as Cassie pushed hi# fir#ly beneath the surface and kept hi# there. %e e#erged
choking! spluttering and -uite unable to speak to hear $beron saying "ery doubtfully6
,3ell! in that case! ) suppose this young penguin should be considered so#ething of
a hero. )t see#s i#probable! #ost i#probable! knowing the penguin as ) do! but in the
circu#stances ) a# prepared to say no #ore about it., *nd without #ore ado and
before Three-P could regain his "oice! $beron and Titania swa# off! followed by their
retinue and all the rest of the penguins.
Three-P was left with Cassie! his parents and .ully 8i#son.
,*hh! see you back at the burrow then!, his father said awkwardly! and he too swa#
away. %is #other ga"e Three-P a look that spoke a whole library shelf of "olu#es and
&oined his father.
Three-P was about to burst out angrily but Cassie forestalled hi#.
,)># so sorry!, she said. ,)t>s all #y fault. )f ) hadn>t rushed off and brought the# all
to the rescue! this ne"er would ha"e happened.,
,$h well!, Three-P said after a #o#ent! trying to be gracious. ,0ou thought you
were acting for the best and no real har# done. They all think )># an idiot anyway!
after #aking such a fool of #yself with .ene"ie"e... ouch<, he exclai#ed. .ully
Nick Creech Three-P 19
8i#son had &ust pecked hi# sharply on the shoulder and he realised that Cassie was
looking suddenly crestfallen and #iserable.
,But )># glad ) did! #ake a fool of #yself!, Three-P went on. ,$therwise! ) would
ne"er ha"e got to know you., *nd as he spoke! Three-P realised that what he was
saying was absolutely true.
That night! Three-P could not begin to sleep. %is day with the dolphins had not only
been tre#endous fun but had opened his eyes to a way of li"ing he ne"er could ha"e
i#agined. %e lay there! tossing and turning! reli"ing e"erything that had happened!
then his #ind turned to e"en earlier e"ents! to the fun he had been ha"ing with Cassidy
%opalong before e"er the dolphins had appeared. *nd it was so#ething #ore than &ust
a fun. %e sighed and in desperation began to count #ackerel! but the #ore he counted
the #ore awake he felt. *t last he rolled out of bed and crept out of the burrow! careful
not to wake his parents. Perhaps so#e fresh air and a stroll would cal# hi# down.
The night was delightful! bal#y with a full #oon glistening on the water. Three-P
#eandered down towards the southern tip of the island. The tide had changed again
but the surf! generated by a stor# who knew where! was still swinging round the point
and running up the western shore in lo"ely! curling co#bers. +uddenly Three-P
stiffened. There was so#ething out there! or rather things. Then clear in the #oonlight!
he saw it was the dolphins! taking it in turns to catch a wa"e and surf along the shore!
before racing back for the next.
The pull was so strong that e"en had he wanted to! Three-P would ne"er ha"e been
unable to stop hi#self. %e rushed down to the water! launched hi#self in a racing di"e
and swa# frantically out to the break.
,3ell! well!, d>*rtagnan was saying a #o#ent later. ,/ook who it is.,
,8ust in ti#e!, *thos said.
,Aude! it>s pu#ping..., *ra#is said.
,Co#e on! you>re next!, Porthos finished.
Nothing loath! Three-P ga"e it e"erything he had but could not #anage to swi#
-uite fast enough! -uite long enough to catch a wa"e. %e tried and he tried! but the
#ore he tried! the #ore tired he beca#e and the worse his failures. *t last he ga"e up!
disheartened and depressed.
,%###!, d>*rtagnan said! consideringly.
,:###...,
,*hhh...,
Nick Creech Three-P 1;
,Frrr...,
,3hat about...4, d>*rtagnan went on.
,0ou>re not thinking...4,
,.enius...<,
,/et>s do it<,
,Ao what4, Three-P said #ystified.
)t took so#e practice! but -uite soon anybody watching would ha"e seen a #ost
astonishing sight. * dolphin surfing is not so unusual! but a penguin riding a dolphin
riding a wa"e! the sa#e way a hu#an rides a surfboard! now that>s si#ply uni-ue.
Three-P had ne"er experienced anything re#otely as exhilarating. The speed! the
power! the sensation of controlling the power! of bending it to his own will was unlike
anything he could ha"e i#agined e"en in his wildest drea#s. %is first successful ride!
he felt sure! would always re#ain the pinnacle of his life! his finest #e#ory. 3hen at
last d>*rtagnan cut back off the crest and Three-P allowed hi#self to collapse into the
water he was hysterical! whooping and hollering so #uch that he all but choked and
drowned. The dolphins were al#ost as excited and de#anded to be allowed to take it
in turns! catching wa"e after wa"e with Three-P! no two wa"es e"er the sa#e! always
different.
Aawn was long past and the sun well up by the ti#e they finally began to tire of the
sport. )t was then that .ully 8i#son ca#e hurtling down out of a clear blue sky.
,)diots<, he s-uawked. ,2ools< Morons! all of you. Turn #y back for a #inute to get
so#e breakfast and what happens4,
,3hy! .ully4 3hat has happened4, Three-P said bene"olently.
2or answer! .ully turned and gestured at the shore. )t was black with penguins! all
staring at the#.
:h oh! Three-P thought. They didn>t look at all friendly and he see#ed to feel
wa"es of disappro"al washing towards hi#. *t that #o#ent! so#ebody di"ed in and
ca#e swi##ing towards the#. )t was PC 2latfoot! the Mickleburrow police#an! large!
inti#idating and pregnant with all the authority of his office. %e stopped and sur"eyed
Three-P with an awful eye.
,Pengelly Perce"al Puddle!, he began. %is "oice was deep and threatening. ,)
hereby place you under arrest on su##ons to attend the Mickleburrow *ssi(es
forthwith., Three-P opened and shut his speak se"eral ti#es! but he was so stunned no
sound e#erged. %e was sa"ed by .ully 8i#son.
Nick Creech Three-P 1=
,$n what charge4, .ully de#anded.
,*nd whoe"er you #ight be!, PC 2latfoot snapped. ,This is none of your business.
Be on your way.,
,$n the contrary!, .ully stated. ,) a# Mr Puddle>s attorney and if you>re not "ery
careful )>ll ha"e you up before the Beak for harass#ent of an officer of the court in the
execution of his duty.,
,$h bra"o<, d>*rtagnan applauded.
,*nd you can shut up!, PC 2latfoot said. ,This is none of your business either and
you ha"e no call to interfere with an officer of the court. $n about your business or
there>ll be trouble.,
,) think he>s threatening us!, *thos said.
,Can he threaten us4, Porthos said.
,*re we going to let hi# threaten us4, *ra#is wanted to know. Three-P felt the
situation was rapidly getting out of control.
,) think we should threaten hi#!, d>*rtagnan said.
,)>ll co#e -uietly!, Three-P said. F"eryone looked at hi# in surprise.
,0ou don>t ha"e to! you know!, d>*rtagnan said. ,%e can>t #ake you! not with us
about.,
,That>s what worries #e!, Three-P said. ,)>ll go. )>ll go now. ) don>t want any #ore
trouble.,
,%ow disappointing!, Porthos said.
,%ow sad...,
,3hat a waste...,
The great #ass of penguins silently parted and PC 2latfoot lead the prisoner down
the a"enue so #ade towards the #eeting dell! where $beron and Titania were waiting!
their palace retinue drawn up behind. Three-P shi"ered. %e had no real idea of what
was happening.
PC 2latfoot #arched hi# up to the official party.
,Prisoner at the bar! >tenshun!, he bellowed. Three-P found hi#self auto#atically
co#ing to attention and then! suddenly rebelling! decided he wouldn>t. .ully 8i#son
shook his head disappro"ingly.
,/et #e do the talking!, he whispered. ,*nd try to beha"e., %e stepped forward
and speaking in a loud "oice! de#anded6
Nick Creech Three-P 1?
,3hat is the #eaning of this4 3hy are you treating #y client like a con"icted
felon4,
,*nd who the deuce are you4, $beron shot back! testily. %is co#plexion was still
as cri#son as his tie and a little ditty was running round his head6 Pengelly Puddle!
always in trouble. 2irst it was upsetting that nice .ene"ie"e /ongbotto# and #ore
i#portantly! her father! holding her fa#ily up to ridicule. Then he has the whole of
Mickleburrow turn out to search for hi# -uite pointlessly. *nd $beron still couldn>t
bear to think about the after#ath! the... a#bush he had found hi#self sucked into. )t
ca#e to hi# all of a sudden that the hu#iliation inflicted on hi# by the dolphins! not
to #ention the pain and suffering! had ob"iously been planned all along. *bsolutely.
%e began to swell with fresh fury.
,)..., .ully 8i#son was saying! #eanwhile! with lofty dignity ,... a# Mr Puddle>s
attorney-at-law. ) de#and to know the charges.,
,0ou! sir! are an interloper!, $beron spat. ,This is a penguin court and you ha"e no
business here., *nd then speaking to PC 2latfoot! $beron co##anded6 ,Ce#o"e that
bird.,
,Bird...<, .ully 8i#son began to protest! but got no further as PC 2latfoot deli"ered
hi# a sharp peck. %e reared back! shrieking and flapping his wings the way gulls do!
only to find hi#self bowled o"er by PC 2latfoot thrusting forward inexorably like a
#iniature bulldo(er. There was a hiss of indrawn breath fro# the crowd! none of
who# could re#e#ber e"er ha"ing witnessed so #uch entertain#ent cra##ed into so
short a space of ti#e. Three-P #o"e to help his friend but was too late. Aa(ed! .ully
picked hi#self up and when PC 2latfoot threatened another charge! he ga"e Three-P an
apologetic look and flew off! s-uawking.
+uddenly! Three-P was all alone in that huge crowd and still with no real idea of
what was happening.
$beron gestured and another large penguin stepped forward! the clerk of the court.
%e began to intone in a #ost se"ere "oice6
,Pengelly Perce"al Puddle! in that you were witnessed by the asse#bled #ultitude
consorting and disporting with sundry dolphins! a species highly ini#ical to all right-
thinking penguins! you are hereby accused of treason! species i#purity and heinous
cri#es against #orality! the #andatory punish#ent for which is expulsion and exile in
perpetuity. %ow do you plead4,
,0ou #ust be &oking!, Three-P said in astonish#ent.
Nick Creech Three-P 1@
,8oking<, $beron roared. ,Penguins and dolphins do not #ix. They>re oil and water!
chalk and cheese! whate"er cheese #ight be. *nd you choose of your own free will to
associate with that gang of hooligans! to go sporting with the#! the worst gang in the
neighbourhood. 3hy! it>s uni#aginable! unconscionable! intolerable..., %e was al#ost
frothing at the beak by the ti#e he had finished and had -uite run out of breath.
,%ow do you plead4, the clerk of the court repeated.
%owe"er! Three-P didn>t get a second chance.
,.uilty!, so#eone shouted fro# the crowd and then a chant began! growing louder
and louder until it was i#possible to think6 ,.uilty! guilty! guilty! guilty! guilty!
guilty..., To Three-P! it felt as though a #ountain was falling on hi#! crushing hi#!
destroying hi#! a #ountain of unreasoning hate.
,+ilence<, the clerk bellowed. ,+ilence..., .radually! the asse#bly ca#e to order.
,.uilty he is!, $beron said. ,Clearly guilty.,
,:n-uestionably!, Titania seconded hi#. $beron scowled at her for butting in. The
crowd roared again.
,Prisoner! do you ha"e anything to say before ) pass sentence4, $beron said! at last!
when he could be heard. Three-P stared at hi#. +o#ewhere deep inside hi# a spark
began to glow.
,) like the dolphins!, he began.
,+ha#e<, so#ebody shouted.
,The dolphins are #y friends!, he continued in a louder "oice.
,+ha#e< +ha#e<, The cries were growing.
,) ha"en>t done anything wrong..., he was shouting now. ,*nd ) agree with the
dolphins. Penguins are ridiculous. 0ou>re all stupid! especially you..., Three-P pointed
at $beron.
The noise fro# the crowd was now so raucous! it was i#possible to #ake out
anything anyone was saying. $beron was staring at hi# in fury. +lowly he raised his
flipper o"er his head as though about to strike Three-P! then lowered it to the
hori(ontal! rigid as an iron bar and pointing to the sea.
,.o<, he hissed. ,*nd ne"er co#e back.,
The crowd began to push at each other until they had cleared an a"enue down to the
water! an a"enue of exile. * s#all part of Three-P wanted to throw hi#self on the
Nick Creech Three-P 1B
ground and beg for #ercy! but the rest of hi# drew hi#self up! straight as the bill on a
swordfish. +lowly he looked about hi#! a last look. There was his #other! sobbing
-uietly! his father ineffectually patting her on the shoulder. *nd there was Cassie!
staring at hi# with horror! her eyes huge. Three-P realised with a shock that apart fro#
his parents and little Cassidy %opalong he didn>t care if he ne"er saw any of the others
e"er again. 3hat was being forced upon hi# was not punish#ent! but freedo#. %e
s#iled at his parents! winked at Cassie and began to #arch towards the sea! towards a
new life
The 2our Musketeers were waiting for hi#. .ully 8i#son on being e"icted fro# the
trial had sought the# out and warned the# what was happening.
,+o..., d>*rtagnan began! not -uite sure what to say.
,3ell..., *thos said.
,:#..., Porthos said.
,*h..., *ra#is said.
,Aon>t worry!, Three-P said
,But it was our fault...,
,+ort of...,
,* little bit...,
,8ust a s#idgen...,
,Not at all!, Three-P said. ,Being with you is the best fun )>"e e"er had and they>re
all &ust &ealous. *nd they>re stupid. They think dolphins are despicable &ust because
you>re different. They ha"e no idea what you>re really like and they>re too full of
pre&udice to find out. )># glad they threw #e out. Now )>ll ne"er ha"e to bow and
scrape to that fat old $beron e"er again. )># glad you used hi# for a football. +er"es
hi# right. The only thing is! ) don>t really know what to do now.,
,That>s easy...,
,Peasy... ,
,8apanesy...,
,0ou co#e with us!, d>*rtagnan said.
Nick Creech Three-P 5D
,3e>re going to #ake you an honorary #usketeer...,
,The fifth #usketeer...,
,But...,
,Ao you think...,
,That he>s really...,
,* whole #usketeer...4,
,Being so s#all and all...4,
,The 9Hth #usketeer...4,
,That>s it...,
,Brilliant...,
,Magic...,
,$utstanding..., *nd then they all spoke at once.
,3elco#e to the Musketeers., Three-P sighed with pleasure and gratitude.
+uddenly life was not only filled with freedo# but infinite possibility.
Nick Creech Three-P 51
Chapter four
There was only one word for it! Three-P thought to hi#self. %oot. /ife with the
dolphins was an absolute hoot. $r did he #ean honk4 Fither way! hooting or honking!
it was all &ust too #uch fun.
The 9 H #usketeers had -uickly disco"ered that if Three-P lay on so#eone>s back
&ust so! with his flipper hooked o"er the dorsal fin! then he was nicely strea#lined and
they could all #o"e &ust as fast as they pleased. The only thing was! whoe"er was
doing the honours that day had to re#e#ber not to stay down too long as Three-P
could not hold his breath as long as the dolphins. )n the excite#ent of the chase! it was
not unusual for the steed of the #o#ent to forget and Three-P would ha"e to gi"e his
back a sharp bang to re#ind hi# that he was in i##inent danger of drowning.
)t was another perfect day. There was a hint of a stor# in the offing but for the
#o#ent the sun was shining bene"olently! the bree(e was a#using itself by scaring up
whitecaps and the Musketeers were larking along ha"ing &ust en&oyed a splendid
luncheon of cala#ari I la #ode.
,+-uid-licious!, Three-P was thinking to hi#self! when suddenly d>*rtagnan!
whose turn it was to carry hi#! stopped.
,Aid you hear that4, he asked Three-P.
,3hat4, Three-P said absently! still sa"ouring the #e#ory of the s-uid.
,+o#eone>s in trouble. /isten.,
The other dolphins stopped and then circled back.
,3hat>s up4, *ra#is said.
,/isten!, d>*rtagnan said again! and then6 ,There. Aid you hear that4, The sharp
sound of a creature in distress "ibrated faintly through the water about the#.
,* whale!, *thos said.
,3ailing..., Porthos said.
,* young whale!, d>*rtagnan said.
,Co#e on<, *ra#is said! and without #ore ado the Musketeers swung sharply to
the east and increased speed to "ery near the #axi#u#. )t was the fastest Three-P had
been in his life! so exhilarating that he hoped it would ne"er end. The speed of their
Nick Creech Three-P 51
passage through the water rushed and tore at hi#. %e flattened hi#self against
d>*rtagnan>s back to #ini#ise resistance and held on for dear life! gulping air
desperately e"ery ti#e they rose to the surface. *t last! &ust when he was beginning to
think that howe"er #uch fun it was he would be unable to cling on any longer! and as
they yet again leaped clear of the surface! he spotted a dark! grey hu#p off in the
distance. )t looked rather like an isolated rock sticking up out of the ocean! wa"es
breaking o"er the top of it. *s they drew nearer! they could begin to #ake out that it
was in fact a hu#pback whale! wallowing on the surface. *nd finally! it beca#e clear
that the whale really was in deadly trouble. %e was entangled in a great #ess of
abandoned fishing gear that had broken free fro# a trawl and which was now washing
about hi# with the action of the wa"es.
,3ell!, d>*rtagnan said! co#ing to a halt in front of the whale. ,This is a pretty
pickle...,
,* fickle pickle...,
,* prickly pickle...,
,* "ery tricky pickle indeed...,
The whale sighed #ournfully.
,0ou poor thing!, Three-P said. ,%ow long ha"e you been like this4,
,Aays!, the whale said so faintly they could barely hear. ,Aays and days and days.
)>"e tried and )>"e tried but ) &ust can>t get free. *nd ) can>t swi#. ) can>t do anything.
)># star"ing... ) think )># going to die...,
,No..., Three-P began.
,*bsolutely not..., d>*rtagnan echoed.
,Ne"er..., Porthos said.
,Not while were here..., *thos said.
,3e>ll think of so#ething!, *ra#is finished.
But what! Three-P wondered4 The dolphins circled about a little way off! careful
not to get tangled up the#sel"es! studying the situation. )t looked hopeless! -uite
i#possible.
)>"e got to get closer! Three-P thought. %e slipped off d>*rtagnan>s back and edged
in.
Nick Creech Three-P 55
,$h! do be careful!, d>*rtagnan said anxiously and he was right to be worried. The
great #ess of nets and ropes and buoys was swirling about treacherously in the wa"es!
a deadly trap &ust waiting to snare anyone the slightest bit careless.
Three-P decided he needed to get still closer! and then di"ed right underneath the
whale! studying the situation. .radually he began to #ake so#e sort of sense fro# the
constantly hea"ing #ass. )t was difficult to see! but he decided it all ca#e down to one
thick rope which had so#ehow wrapped twice around the narrowest part of the whale>s
tail. Cut that and #aybe! &ust #aybe! the whole horrible #ess #ight sink away. Three-
P popped up out of the water and swa# back to the dolphins.
,3ell!, d>*rtagnan said. ,3hat do you think4,
,There>s this rope!, Three-P said. ,$ne rope. )f we can cut it...,
,Cut it4, *thos said! the dolphins all looked at each other helplessly.
,%ow e"er could we possibly cut it4, d>*rtagnan said.
,) don>t know!, Three-P said. ,But that>s what we ha"e to do., There was a long!
long silence. They could hear the whale breathing raggedly and they knew he couldn>t
sur"i"e #uch longer! not with tons of wreckage dragging hi# down. *t last! Three-P
spoke.
,Could you chew through it4, he asked.
2or answer! d>*rtagnan opened his #outh. %e had lots of teeth! nearly ;D counting
top and botto#! but they were all conical! designed for grasping and holding! not
cutting. They sank back into gloo#y silence! and then the sa#e inspiration see#ed to
strike the# all si#ultaneously.
,)t>s hu#an rubbish..., Porthos began.
,+o we need..., *ra#is said.
,* hu#an way..., *thos said.
,To cut it..., d>*rtagnan said.
,3e need a knife!, Three-P finished triu#phantly. 3hich was all "ery well to say!
but getting a knife out there in the ocean was -uite another #atter. There was another
long silence! finally broken by d>*rtagnan.
Nick Creech Three-P 59
,) ha"e a plan!, he said. ,Three-P co#es with #e and the rest of you stay here. Try
to help hi# stay afloat! and keep a sharp eye out for you know what... 3e>ll be as -uick
as we can.,
F"ery so often! d>*rtagnan would leap a bit higher out of the water and Three-P!
whose eyesight was #uch better than the dolphins>! would strain to see the coast.
2inally! there it was! a thin! ha(y blue line.
,) can see it!, he honked. %e was wildly excited despite the seriousness of the
occasion. %e had ne"er e"er seen the #ainland! nor did he know anybody who had. )t
was a fantastic! #ysterious place. Nobody at Mickleburrow had e"er been there in
li"ing #e#ory but one of the oldest penguins had once had an uncle who had once had
a cousin who had spoken to a friend who had heard of a penguin fro# another colony
who #ight ha"e seen it in the distance! but couldn>t be sure. *nd now! not only had
Three-P seen the #ainland for hi#self but he was actually going there.
$nce in "iew! the coast ca#e rapidly nearer and "ery soon Three-P could #ake out
a forbidding line of rearing cliffs. Closer still! a gap opened up and d>*rtagnan changed
course slightly until he was heading straight for it.
,This is the place!, d>*rtagnan said when he was sure of his bearings. ,There>s a
town tucked into the bay and a &etty.,
,3hat are we going to do4, Three-P asked.
,0ou!, d>*rtagnan said. ,)t>s what you>re going to do. ) can>t go on land so it has to
be you. There>s a &etty where hu#ans fish. They>re always there. )t will be dark soon
and you can creep up and take a knife.,
,0ou #ean! steal a knife4,
,) do!, d>*rtagnan said. Three-P suddenly fell silent. *ll his life! he had been
scrupulously honest and the thought of stealing so#ething was deeply troubling.
A>*rtagnan sensed his disco#fort.
,)t>s their rotten rubbish killing the whale!, he said angrily. ,)t>s only fair for the# to
help us free hi#.,
The sun wa"ed a last scarlet banner at the world and departed for the night! lea"ing
dusk to creep across the water. A>*rtagnan and Three-P slid silently down the bay with
Nick Creech Three-P 5;
barely a ripple! rounded the point and there suddenly before the# was the town! lights
beginning to sparkle. * dark #ass &utted towards the#. )t was the &etty. They could
hear people chatting as they fished and fro# ti#e to ti#e there was a glow fro# a
torch as so#ebody baited a hook.
A>*rtagnan di"ed and swa# underwater until they could surface beneath the &etty!
between the piles and -uite in"isible. 3ith a whispered ,good luck, fro# the dolphin!
Three-P slipped off his back and eased into the shoreline where ripples were lapping at
the beach. %e lay there listening for a second or two then crept up the sand and finally
out fro# under the &etty where he found steps leading up to the roadway. %e stopped!
shi"ering with fright and suddenly o"erco#e by the enor#ity of what he was about to
do. %e knew that the hu#ans would cut hi# up for fish bait without a second thought
if e"er they should catch hi#. *t last he took a deep breath and #ade to #o"e! but
found hi#self rooted to the spot. %is body was flatly refusing to do what it was told.
,Mo"e<, he ordered hi#self. +till nothing happened. Then he thought of the poor
whale! struggling to stay ali"e! hopeless but ne"ertheless refusing to gi"e up. %is foot
stirred! and again! and suddenly he found hi#self creeping along the decking! trying to
#ake hi#self e"en s#aller than he already was.
%alf a do(en people were fishing fro# the end of the pier. They had rods and
handlines! tackle boxes! coolers and other bits and pieces scattered about! the way
fisher#en do. * couple had brought stools. The others were sitting with their legs
dangling o"er the edge.
Three-P crept nearer and nearer! then stopped and stiffened. %e was suddenly aware
of two things. Behind one of the seated figures was a bait bucket and lying beside it on
the planking! Three-P could see a fish knife. But at the other end of the row! there was
so#ething else! a shapeless hu#p! a hu#p that rose and fell slightly as it breathed. )t
was a dog.
This ti#e! Three-P was absolutely paralysed with fear. * dog would tear hi# to
pieces. %e wouldn>t &ust be cut up for fish bait! he would be ripped to shreds while still
ali"e. *gain he thought of the poor helpless whale! but he was petrified! literally turned
to stone. * "agrant thought flashed through his #ind. )f he were to fall o"er the edge
now! he would sink straight to the botto#! a stone indeed! and drown. %is beak
twitched with the beginnings of a s#ile! and suddenly it was possible to #o"e again.
%e was sorely te#pted to turn tail but on the point of doing &ust that! he was struck by
Nick Creech Three-P 5=
the realisation that it was probably not #uch #ore dangerous to go forwards rather
than back.
)nch by painful inch! centi#etre by painful centi#etre! fraction by painful fraction!
he edged towards the knife. *nd at last! finally! he could reach forward and grasp it
with his beak.
%e #ust ha"e #ade a noise.
$ne of the fisher#en swung round and gasped with astonish#ent. %e and Three-P
stared at each other. *nd the fisher#en began to shout6
,%ey< That penguin is stealing #y knife< Butch! you do(y dog< 3ake up< .eddit<
.o on< .eddit< 7ill<,
The dog sprang instantly to life! growled and then lunged for Three-P! who reeled
back in total panic! scrabbling #adly to get away. +o#ehow he e"aded the dog>s first
rush and still back-pedalling furiously! found hi#self teetering on the edge of the &etty.
The dog! claws s#oking on the planking! heeled around and ca#e at hi# again. Three-
P had a fleeting i#pression of yawning &aws! &agged teeth and flying spittle! and then
he was falling.
%e hit the water flat on his back and with a force that &arred all the breath fro# his
body. %owe"er! he so#ehow kept enough presence of #ind not only to hang on to the
knife but to swi# for the shelter of a pile before he ca#e to the surface! gasping
desperately for air. A>*rtagnan arri"ed fro# the shadows and supported hi# with his
snout while he reco"ered. *bo"e the# on the &etty there was pande#oniu#. The dog!
balked of his prey was barking hysterically. The owner of the knife was shouting6
,)t was a penguin! ) tell you< * penguin stole #y knife... it #ust be under the &etty
still. .o on! Butch< .o on... get in there!go get hi#<, There was a yelp as the dog was
thrown o"er the edge! and a large splash.
Three-P and d>*rtagnan glanced at each other! then Three-P slid back until he could
clasp d>*rtagnan>s fin co#fortably in his ar#pit! and the two noiselessly sub#erged
and by the ti#e they ca#e up for air were well away! in"isible in the dark. )n the
distance! they could hear the dog thrashing about! his #aster! still shouting angrily.
Three-P shuddered. )t had been a "ery near thing! a "ery near thing indeed! but he had
the knife and that was all that #attered.
Nick Creech Three-P 5?
F"en though it was a black night! cloudy and #oonless with the weather thickening
rapidly! they found the others without difficulty thanks to d>*rtagnan>s sonar and his
infallible sense of direction. The whale was still ali"e! but only &ust and the other
#usketeers greeted their return with anxious eagerness.
,Aid you get it4, *thos de#anded.
,3e did..., Three-P began but was interrupted by d>*rtagnan.
,Three-P did!, he said. ,3ait till you hear what happened...,
,No ti#e!, *ra#is said. ,%e>s "ery weak! we ha"e to hurry...,
,+tart cutting!, Porthos said. Three-P slipped off d>*rtagnan>s back but the dolphin
stopped hi# before he could go further.
,)t>s too dangerous!, d>*rtagnan said. ,)n the dark! in this rough water! it>s too
dangerous. 0ou>ll get tangled up for sure. *nd we won>t be able to sa"e you and you
won>t be able to sa"e the whale. 0ou>ll both drown and what>s the good of that4,
Three-P paused. A>*rtagnan was right. The chances of getting trapped hi#self were
"ery high. But on the other hand! the whale was now so weak he could no longer speak
and his breathing was getting fainter and fainter. Three-P was certain the whale could
not last till dawn! that he would die before their eyes and if he had not e"en tried!
Three-P knew he would be unable to li"e with hi#self. Better then for hi#! if it ca#e
to it! to die in the atte#pt.
%e suddenly #ade up his #ind and without a word! took a deep breath and di"ed.
The four dolphins looked at each other with deep concern. They had beco#e "ery
attached to the tiny penguin and what he was doing! deliberately di"ing into a swirling!
deadly tangle! -uite in"isible in the dark! was the bra"est thing any of the# had e"er
seen anyone do.
Twice! Three-P felt clutching tendrils grasp at hi# like so#e #onster fro# the deep
but each ti#e he #anaged to wriggle free. *nd then he was inside the worst of the
#ess! right up against the whale>s tail. %e found the crucial rope he needed to cut and
followed it up to the surface so that he could breath while he worked. Then! clutching
the knife in his beak as fir#ly as he could #anage! he began to saw at the thick!
synthetic hawser.
)t see#ed an i#possible task. The s#all bait knife! ne"er "ery sharp to begin with!
-uickly beca#e so blunt and Three-P! who weighed only a little #ore than a kilogra#!
Nick Creech Three-P 5@
could apply so little pressure that it was ha"ing no noticeable effect. *t last! close to
despair! he stopped to rest. )t was then that he noticed that the back of the knife was
serrated for scaling fish.
) wonder! Three-P thought. ) wonder.
%e tried sawing with the back of the knife and i##ediately could feel that
so#ething was finally happening. Cope fibres were catching and fraying till they
parted. Three-P redoubled his efforts but it was a long! long! weary business!
frustrating! endless. %owe"er! ne"er once was Three-P te#pted to gi"e up. Aogged is
perhaps the wrong word to use! but that>s what he was! dogged to the point of
obsession.
%is friends! the dolphins! swa# round and round in a slow circle anxiously
chirruping. F"ery so often one of the# would de#and he stop and reassure the# that
he was still all right or! hea"ing #ass of wreckage or not! they would co#e in and
pluck hi# out. Three-P of course knew that if they ca#e any nearer it would be
disastrous. %e was so s#all that he had so#e chance of slipping through the gaps! but
any of the dolphins would be snared in an instant and doo#ed to a horrible death. +o
Three-P e"ery so often would ha"e to break off and try to honk! his beak #uffled by
the handle of the knife! loud enough for his friends to hear hi# o"er the increasing
tu#ult of the wind and the wa"es.
Three-P began to doubt that he would e"er #anage to saw through the hawser but
still he refused e"en to think of gi"ing up. 2inally! the sky began to lighten with a hint
of the approaching dawn. )t #eant that he had already this been at work for hours and
hours! and he knew that if he didn>t #anage to free the whale soon! it would all be for
nothing. %e was now so tired that he had to concentrate fiercely on keeping his grip on
the knife. $ne #istake and it would disappear into the depths! ne"er to be found again.
)t was full daylight now but there was no sun to be seen. The sky was raddled with
dark! tattered banners and it was hard to tell where cloud ended and sea began. +till the
dolphins circled! keeping "igil. +till Three-P sawed away! exhausted! #ind nu#b!
struggling to hold position against the breaking wa"es! fighting to a"oid being washed
into the wreckage hi#self! knowing only that he #ust keep at it co#e what #ay! that
he #ust not drop the knife though the serrated teeth were now as blunt as the blade!
worn away to the point where they were all but useless. $n and on he worked at the
stubborn hawser and then suddenly! before his disbelie"ing eyes! another fila#ent
parted and the rope actually began to stretch. *t last it was near to breaking.
Nick Creech Three-P 5B
Three-P drew one last deter#ined breath and attacked the rope again with his final
shreds of energy. Then! one second it was there and the next not. The rope parted
soundlessly! whipped around the the whale>s body and the whole seething #ass of
deadly debris slid below the surface and out of sight. Three-P spat the knife away fro#
hi#! watched that too disappear! glinting dully for a #inute and finally rolled on his
back! gasping. *n instant later d>*rtagnan reached hi#.
,0ou>"e done it!, he said disbelie"ingly. ,0ou>"e done it.,
* ray of sunlight suddenly lanced through the lowering sky and settled on the whale
like a spotlight.
,)s he still ali"e4, Three-P asked. ,That>s all that #atters.,
,8ust! ) think!, d>*rtagnan said.
,%e needs food.,
,Aon>t worry. The others are off rounding up so#e s-uid now. 3hales like s-uid.
They>ll be back soon.,
*nd how fortunate! Three-P thought! that another whale had once taken the trouble
to teach the dolphins the art of bubble netting.
%u#phrey! for that turned out to be the whale>s na#e %u#py for short
reco"ered -uickly. *thos! Porthos and *ra#is fortunately found an unfortunate school
of s-uid nearby and #ore or less herded the#! all unsuspecting! straight into
%u#phrey>s open #outh. Celie"ed of the terrible weight dragging hi# down! the still
exhausted whale was able to sleep then! guarded by the dolphins who were concerned
that blood fro# his skin! scored and chafed red raw by the action of the wreckage
dragging at hi# in the wa"es! would attract you know what.
%e woke late that afternoon to find the four dolphins ga(ing into his face with
interested expressions. Most curiously! one of the dolphins had a tiny fairy penguin
reclining negligently on his back! leaning against his dorsal fin.
,3ell!, d>*rtagnan said. ,) #ust say you look rather better than you did this
#orning.,
,*nd ) feel it! sir!, %u#phrey said. ,But ) don>t really re#e#ber "ery #uch about
what happened. ) re#e#ber a stor#! days and days ago it #ust ha"e been. *nd )
re#e#ber getting trapped in that horrible wreckage and calling to #y fa#ily for help.
Nick Creech Three-P 9D
But up near the surface! there was so #uch noise fro# the crashing of the wa"es that
they couldn>t hear #e. 0ou ha"e to be deep! you know! for sound to carry! to be able to
hear anything. *nd then all ) could do was try to stay afloat! for days and days and
days... %ow e"er did you #anage to sa"e #e4 ) can>t e"en belie"e it was possible. %ow
on ocean did you do it4,
+o the four dolphins told hi# the whole story while Three-P listened contentedly!
saying nothing. *t last %u#phrey sort of bowed to hi#.
,) can see!, he said! ,that ) owe you #y life! sir! that without you ) would now be
dead. Please accept #y deepest gratitude. 0ou are a #ost re#arkable little penguin and
) would be proud to be your friend.,
,Think nothing of it!, Three-P said. ,.lad to be able to help. *nd ) would be
e-ually proud to be your friend...,
,*nd us!, the dolphins chorused si#ultaneously.
,Now!, d>*rtagnan said a #o#ent later. ,There>s one thing left to do...,
,3e>"e been talking..., *thos said.
,*nd we>"e decided..., *ra#is said.
,That as Three-P has pro"ed hi#self an absolute hero! first-class with flippers on...,
*ra#is said.
,0ou should be pro#oted to full #usketeer!, d>*rtagnan said. ,Three cheers for
Three-P! the fifth #usketeer...,
3hich was when .ully 8i#son ca#e plu##eting out of the clear blue sky.
Nick Creech Three-P 91
Chapter fi"e
Cassie watched $beron point to the sea with his rigid flipper! nu#bed by a sense of
doo# descending. The crowd of spiteful! spitting penguins separated and drew apart!
for#ing a corridor of cala#ity down which Three-P #arched into exile! head held high
and back defiant.
Three-P was right! she thought. Penguins were ridiculous and to banish so#eone for
being friendly with a pod of dolphins was stupid beyond belief. But that did nothing to
change what had happened or to ease the pain in her heart. *t last! she had #anaged to
#ake Three-P notice her! e"en begin to like her! and now he had been dri"en away by
the worst sort of #ob pre&udice and unreasoning hate. Cassie was close to despair.
The gathering continued long after Three-P had di"ed into the shore break and
disappeared. Nobody could e"er re#e#ber e"ents so #o#entous and the crowd stood
around for what see#ed like hours! discussing! recounting and chewing o"er
e"erything that had happened. )t #ade Cassie feel sick. They were all taking such
pleasure in Three-P>s disgrace and it was unsee#ly! indecent! downright disgusting.
3orse! she was held prisoner by the crush! forced to listen to the gleeful gossip. )n the
end! she began to push and sho"e careless of who# she #ight tra#ple! &ust desperate
to escape. +he felt that if she had to listen to one #ore sentence that began6 ,) always
knew that young penguin would co#e to no good..., then she would die on the spot.
+he had &ust about #ade good her escape when she was blocked by another penguin
who refused to let her pass. )t was .ene"ie"e /ongbotto#.
,*nd ) hope you>re satisfied!, she said "eno#ously. ,This is all your fault. ) could
ha"e #ade so#ething of Pengelly! but you had to go and interfere and ruin e"erything.
%ow dare you...4,
,3hat...4, Cassie started to say.
,This is all your fault!, .ene"ie"e repeated! shouting now. $ther penguins were
turning to look! their faces stern. ,0ou turned out the town to go searching for hi#.
*nd then you dared hi# into surfing with the dolphins. ) heard you.,
)t was such an outrageous accusation! such a total lie! that Cassie could only gape
opened-beaked in astonish#ent. There was a #o#ent! a fraction of a second! when she
Nick Creech Three-P 91
#ight ha"e been able to re&ect .ene"ie"e>s charge and then it was too late. $ther
penguins were crowding in close now and taking up the running.
,3hat! what did she say...4,
,+he says it>s all %opalong>s fault...,
,That she called the dolphins...,
,+he dared Three-P...,
,J *nd he went surfing...,
,Aisgraceful...,
,J That any young penguin could do such a thing...,
,)f she were #y daughter! )>d gi"e her such a pecking...,
*nd if Cassie had been close to despair #o#ents before! now she was #ore
#iserable than she>d e"er been in her life. )t was all so unfair! so un&ust! and worst of
all! she had lost Three-P &ust when she had begun to hope! oh so secretly! that they
#ight ha"e a future together.
*t last she #anaged to force her way clear of the &abbering #ob and fled for her
burrow.
+he stayed there for days! too #iserable to #o"e! too disgusted e"er to want to ha"e
anything to do with anybody in Mickleburrow e"er again. %er #other! of course! was
frantic with worry and tried e"erything she could think of to coax Cassie to co#e out!
but in the end e"en she had to gi"e up. )f Cassie was deter#ined to star"e herself to
death then there wasn>t "ery #uch anybody could do about it.
)n the end what sa"ed her was the thought that Three-P would despise her if he
could see her now. The realisation ca#e on her slowly! sneaking up! insinuating itself
into her #ind! gradually beco#ing #ore and #ore powerful until at last it filled her
head and dro"e her to e#erge. )t was al#ost as dark outside the burrow as it was inside
but thanks to her excellent penguin night "ision and the faint light of dawn! Cassie had
no difficulty picking her way down to the shore. +he hesitated for a #o#ent and then
with a lingering look o"er her shoulder! plunged into the water. +he had the feeling that
she would ne"er return to Mickleburrow again and was not sorry there was no one to
see her go. 3ell! al#ost no one. * seagull roosting on a rock had pulled his head out
fro# under his wing as she passed.
Nick Creech Three-P 95
The thrust of the water pulsing through her feathers as she swa# slowly away fro#
the shore brought her back to life and she realised she was hungry! star"ing hungry.
%owe"er! it was one of those strange occasions when the sea see#ed to be de"oid of
fish! absolutely barren. +he could sense a stor# co#ing and apparently e"erything in
the ocean had decided to lie low. Now that she had finally ad#itted to herself that she
was indeed fa#ished! Cassie was desperate to find food. +he swa# on and on! #ile
after #ile! intent on finding so#ething to eat. )t was full light now but grey and
gloo#y! the sun hidden behind a sky darkening with purple clouds. *lready the rising
wind had slashed the sea with long lines of white. The island -uickly disappeared
below the hori(on without Cassie noticing.
+till she hunted on but the building stor# really had swept the ocean clean and
without realising it! Cassie! too! was being swept faster and faster away fro# safety.
*t last! di"ing down to her li#it! she chanced on a school of s-uid and was able partly
to satisfy her hunger before she lost the# in the tu#bling #urk.
Now less ra"enous! she started to think again and realised all of a sudden that she
was in bad trouble. )ntent only on food! she had allowed herself to be carried far to
leeward of Mickleburrow and the chances of being able to swi# back against the gale
and the current were extre#ely s#all. Ne"ertheless! she turned about and gri#ly began
to trudge into the wind and the wa"es. )t was hopeless. Cassie didn>t know it but this
was the sa#e stor# that had #ade Three-P>s rescue of the whale so difficult and
dangerous! and she was caught in the absolute worst of it.
.i"ing up any atte#pt to fight against it! Cassie turned downwind and concentrated
on keeping herself afloat. F"en &ust that was exhausting. The wa"es had built up
-uickly but had not yet had ti#e to lengthen out! which #eant they were steep and
breaking hapha(ardly. Ti#e and again! Cassie was picked up by a foa#ing crest and
du#ped #ercilessly into the trough beyond. F"en though the sea was her ele#ent! it
took e"ery ounce of her strength to sur"i"e. * hu#an would ha"e drowned long
before. $n and on it went! Cassie concentrating gri#ly on fighting her way through
one! battering wall of water! and then the next! and the one after that. )t see#ed as
though the stor# would ne"er end and #any ti#es Cassie thought she could not
possibly endure. But so#ehow she did. *t least the stor#! unlike the pre&udice of the
penguins of Mickleburrow! was so#ething physical to fight against.
*ll that day she battled on! #o#ent by #o#ent! #inute by #inute! and on into the
night. 2inally! the wind began to #oderate and the wa"es to lengthen out so that no
Nick Creech Three-P 99
longer were they are tu#bling cauldron. Cassie could begin to relax a little! e"en to
sleep for a #inute or two before being caught by another dollop of spray s#acking her
full in the face.
By #orning! the wind had lost its "iciousness. )t was still strong but no longer
goading the wa"es to unreasoning #adness. Cassie! howe"er! was now far gone. +he
had been weak to start with after her self-i#posed fast and the few s-uid she had
#anaged to catch had done little to restore her strength! now again exhausted by the
stor#. $nce #ore! she turned into the wind to try to head for safety but in her
weakened condition could #ake absolutely no progress. *nd she no longer had any
idea where safety! in fact! #ight lie.
*nother wa"e caught her full in the face and she was now so tired that she
swallowed in"oluntarily and began to choke. +he knew she could not last #uch longer
but she was deter#ined to keep on resisting until the absolute last second. +he coughed
and spluttered and so#ehow fought her way back to the surface. )t was then she saw
so#ething floating on the water so#e distance away. Nu#bly she began to swi#
towards it. *t least it was so#ething positi"e to do.
*gain! she choked and began to sink. $ne last ti#e she battled her way back to the
surface and then bashed her head on the ob&ect she>d been #aking for. )t was the top of
an old wooden packing crate that #ust ha"e been du#ped o"erboard fro# a ship. )t
was awash but still had enough buoyancy to #ake one little penguin a liferaft.
+o#ehow! Cassie #anaged to wriggle her way on board and collapse. 2or the #o#ent
she was safe again.

,)t>s all your fault!, .ully 8i#son s-uawked at the# in outrage. ,No good bunch of
loafing layabouts. /ook at you! idling away your li"es when she>s lost and all alone
and "ery probably dying<,
,$h no<, Three-P exclai#ed! auto#atically feeling instantly guilty. ,3hat ha"e )
done this ti#e4,
,)t>s Cassie! Cassidy %opalong!, .ully stor#ed at the#! still s-uawking at the top
of his "oice. ,*nd it>s all your fault! you and your surfer dude buddies.,
,Cassie4 3hat>s happened to Cassie4, Three-P said with a pang.
Nick Creech Three-P 9;
,+he>s lost at sea! that>s what!, .ully said. ,/ost at sea and star"ing to death and it>s
all your fault.,
*nd little by little with the other four #usketeers helping and feeling a tad guilty
the#sel"es! Three-P #anaged to extract the story.
3hen! finally! it was clear what had happened they all looked at each other
helplessly. %ow on ocean could they possibly go about finding one tiny penguin lost
so#ewhere in the hea"ing depths4 )t see#ed absolutely hopeless and no one had any
idea of how e"en to begin.
%u#phrey watched their increasing distress and finally decided to speak. %e was an
extre#ely polite and well brought-up young whale who was "ery #uch in awe of his
rescuers. %e had by now heard so#ething of their free and easy life galli"anting about
the ocean and it see#ed to hi# that if not #usketeers they were certainly buccaneers.
%is own fa#ily was "ery proper and the notion of freebooting one>s way through life
with a bunch of ne>er-do-well friends would ha"e struck the# as being totally beyond
co#prehension. $ne spent su##er in southern waters! working hard to lay down
blubber to fuel the long &ourney north to the breeding grounds in the tropics! where one
spent the winter working hard to teach young whales a proper appreciation of their
place in the sche#e of things! a sche#e of things that held no place whatsoe"er for fun
and fri"olity.
3hales were solid citi(ens of the sea! respectable! restrained! and young whales
certainly ne"er spoke to the elders and betters without first being spoken to.
,Fxcuse #e!, %u#phrey said hesitantly. ,But do ) understand correctly4 $ne of
your friends is lost so#ewhere in the deep ocean...4,
,*nd we ha"e no idea how to find her!, Three-P said disconsolately. %e felt he was
about to burst into tears. The excite#ent of his life since lea"ing Mickleburrow had
disguised his pain at ha"ing to lea"e Cassie! but now it was assailing hi# with horrible
force.
,*h... if you will allow #e!, %u#phrey said diffidently. ,Perhaps ) can help., They
all turned to hi#.
,%elp...4, one of the dolphins began.
,%ow...4,
,3hat can you do...4,
Nick Creech Three-P 9=
,%ow can you help...4,
,Guiet<, Three-P shouted. ,/et hi# speak. 3hat can you do4, he added.
,*h..., %u#phrey said #odestly. ,) can put out an *PB on the wwww.,
,3hat...4,
,3hat>s he talking about...4,
,3hat sort of nonsense is that...4,
,Aon>t understand a word of it...,
,$r a letter of it...,
,Guiet<, Three-P roared. ,/et hi# speak. Please let hi# speak...,
,%ear hear!, .ully 8i#son chi#ed in feeling it was ti#e he inserted hi#self back
into the con"ersation.
,Please< Please< 8ust e"eryone be -uiet!, Three-P said desperately.
,) can put out an all penguins bulletin on the world wide whale web...,
,Aon>t start!, Three-P said warningly. ,8ust don>t start..., The four dolphins
hurriedly closed their #ouths and .ully 8i#son glared at the# forbiddingly.
,The world wide whale web is how we co##unicate!, %u#phrey said. ,)gnorant
creatures call it whale song! but it>s not. 3e talk to each other. ) was &ust about to
ewhale #y parents to tell the# how you sa"ed #e. But now! )>ll put e"eryone on the
lookout for your friend. Aon>t worry! we>ll find her...,
*nd without #ore ado! %u#phrey inhaled #ightily and sank beneath the surface.
+ound! by the way! tra"els four ti#es faster in water than it does in air and #uch
further! so con"ersation o"er a distance is -uite possible. %u#phrey was gone for what
see#ed like hours and Three-P had con"inced hi#self that he too #ust ha"e drowned
before the whale finally surfaced again.
,3ell4, he asked worriedly.
%u#phrey took a long ti#e to reco"er his breath! spouting and inhaling! but at last
he spoke.
,Nothing i##ediately! )># afraid! sir!, %u#phrey said respectfully. ,But e"ery
whale in the whole +outhern Pacific is now on the lookout for her. ) told the# all we
ha"e to find her! that it>s a debt of honour.,
Nick Creech Three-P 9?
,Thank you!, Three-P said after a #o#ent! trying not to show his disappoint#ent.
%e had been telling hi#self that %u#phrey would ha"e news straight away.
,Aid you get in touch with your fa#ily4, d>*rtagnan asked.
,$h yes! sir!, %u#phrey said. ,They were "ery worried about #e. ) told the# how
Three-P sa"ed #e so bra"ely and now they>re all hunting for your friend.,
%u#phrey waited for another 1D #inutes and then di"ed back down to the depths.
*gain when he surfaced! he had nothing to report and so it went through the long! long
day. Three-P was beside hi#self with worry. )t was only now that he was beginning to
realise how dear Cassie had beco#e to hi#.
*nd all through the dreary waiting! .ully 8i#son glared at hi# until at last! Three-P
could bear it no longer.
,)t>s not #y fault!, he said plainti"ely. ,) didn>t banish #e fro# Mickleburrow...,
,+urfer dude..., .ully hissed.
,8ust a little har#less fun!, d>*rtagnan began.
,%ar#less<, .ully s-uawked but before he could launch hi#self into a thorough-
going tirade %u#phrey once #ore surfaced beside the#. %e was -ui"ering with
excite#ent.
,They>"e found her! sir< They>"e found her<, he said to Three-P.
,3here4 3here4, they all de#anded at once.
,2ro# here! at least two days swi#.,
Cassie sank into a stupor of exhaustion. %er breathing was undetectable and anyone
happening upon her would auto#atically ha"e taken her for dead. +he slept she knew
not how long and when she did e"entually wake! she thought she was drea#ing. *
deep "oice! gentle but insistent! see#ed to be #ur#uring in her brain.
,3ake up! Miss!, the "oice was saying o"er and o"er again. ,Ti#e to wake up now.
3ake up! Miss.,
Cassie opened an eye and hurriedly shut it again. *nother eye! a huge eye! was
staring at her.
Nick Creech Three-P 9@
,)t>s all right! Miss!, the "oice said. ,Ceally it>s all right. 0our friends ha"e sent #e
to help you.,
Cassie opened her eyes again and this ti#e kept the# open. +he was floating in
what see#ed to be a "ast! blue bowl. +ea and sky were exactly the sa#e colour and she
couldn>t tell where one began and the other ended. +he was lying on so#ething hard
and she re#e#bered now! scra#bling onto the wooden raft which had appeared &ust in
ti#e to sa"e her. +he #o"ed her head slightly and there was the eye again. )t regarded
her unblinkingly. Cassie started with fright and reared back.
,)t>s all right! Miss. Ceally it>s all right., The "oice said soothingly. )t see#ed to be
associated with the eye and slowly! Cassie began to realise that the eye itself was
e#bedded in what see#ed to be a #ountain of grey flesh.
)t ca#e to Cassie at last that what she was staring at was a whale! and apparently a
whale who #eant her no har#.
,+o!, the whale said. ,No offence! but you do rather look like you could do with a
nice cold bath and so#ething to eat. *nd if you were to slip o"er the side of that thing
you>re riding on! whate"er it is! you>ll find so#e "ery fine s-uid &ust aching to be eaten
right underneath you which #eans you would be able to kill two birds with one
stone...ooops. Eery untactful of #e but you know what ) #ean.,
Cassie realised as the whale was speaking that the hollow pain in her #iddle was
hunger! that she was star"ing! and gratefully she did as she was told. +he ate and ate
and ate until she thought she would burst. +he ate so #uch! in fact! that she had great
difficulty wor#ing her way back onto the raft. The whale had been watching
appro"ingly a little way off and when she had finished! ca#e back to speak with her.
,2eeling better! ) hope!, he said.
,$h #uch better! thank you!, Cassie said gratefully. ,) don>t know how ) can e"er
repay you.,
,Nothing to repay! nothing at all! don>t worry about that!, the whale said. ,*fter
what your friends did for our %u#py! this was absolutely the least ) could do.,
,Ceally4, Cassie said. ,3hy! what happened4,
,That little penguin Three-P! is that his na#e4 why he risked his life for hours in
a stor# to cut %u#phrey free fro# so#e dreadful wreckage. %u#phrey would ha"e
Nick Creech Three-P 9B
drowned! no -uestion. )t was heroic what that little penguin did! absolutely heroic. *nd
we hear that he had to fight a dog and all sorts of things...,
Cassie was thrilled. +he had always belie"ed Three-P to be a superior young
penguin and now here was the proof. +he wanted to interrogate her new friend to get
e"ery last detail but the whale was now i#patient to lea"e.
,3ell then!, he said. ,Now that you>re feeling better ) really #ust get on. +till a long
way to go to the su##er feeding grounds! you know. 0ou>ll be fine now. 8ust stay with
your raft and they>ll find you -uite soon. They>ll be here so#e ti#e to#orrow! ) should
think. *nd if you get hungry again you can always pop o"er the side for a bit of
fishing.,
,$h..., Cassie said! feeling suddenly bereft! then she rallied. ,$f course you #ust
go on. )>"e taken far too #uch of your ti#e already and )>ll always be terribly terribly
grateful. 3ill you tell #e your na#e so that ) can tell e"eryone how kind you>"e
been4,
,No! no!, the whale said. ,)t>s been a pri"ilege and any one of us would ha"e done
the sa#e. Nothing>s too #uch after what your friend did., *nd without #ore ado! the
whale puffed a cloud of "apour into the air! inhaled hugely and sank beneath the
surface! disappearing rapidly into the depths.
Cassie couldn>t help feeling thoroughly forlorn. $nce the whale had left! it was hard
to belie"e that she hadn>t drea#ed the whole thing! that it had all been a fig#ent of her
fe"ered i#agination. %ow could the whale know all about Three-P4 %ow could he
know that Three-P was on the way to rescue her4 )t was i#possible. )t #ade no sense
at all. %ere she was! lost in an i##ensity of sea and sky! utterly alone and to think that
anyone could find her was &ust ridiculous. The despair ho"ering around the edges of
Cassie>s #ind began to thicken and crowd in on her.
But you>re not hungry any #ore! she told herself. The s-uid #ust ha"e been real.
$r! she wondered! a# ) now so hungry ) &ust don>t feel it any #ore4
Night fell and #ercifully! Cassie! still exhausted fro# a battle with the stor#!
slipped into a deep sleep. +he woke with the dawn and #uch to her relief was feeling
hungry again. )t #eant that her huge #eal the day before #ust ha"e been real! and the
whale! and what he had said! that rescue was on the way. +he slipped o"er the side of
her raft and into the cool e#brace of the water! hoping for so#e breakfast. +he was in
Nick Creech Three-P ;D
luck. +o#e of the lefto"er s-uid fro# yesterday were still hanging around! confused
and disoriented. +he helped herself and then cli#bed back on board! stretching out in
the sunshine. Ti#e passed oh so slowly and despite the fact that she had deter#ined
she #ust keep a "igilant lookout! she do(ed off.
)t was a sense of loo#ing #enace that brought her awake. * ha(e had crept o"er the
sky while she slept and the sea was now a #olten grey! oily! threatening. There was no
wind and the life raft rose and fell with a barely perceptible #otion on the lingering
swell. Cassie stood up awkwardly and studied the water around her. +he could see
nothing but still the sense of #enace twanged at her ner"e ends. +he was sure that
so#ething dreadful was about to happen and she began to shi"er. )t was! she suddenly
realised! &ust the weather when wise creatures were #ost on the lookout for you know
what.
F"en sharks fear sharks! for they know best of all that they are nothing #ore or less
than highly #obile eating #achines and that anything that co#es within range is likely
to be #unched! particularly in the #idst of a feeding fren(y. *nd the #ost feared shark
of all is the great white! a huge ani#al all #uscle and teeth and ra"enous appetiteK a
shark that ranges across the oceans of the world and which is so large that it can take a
large! bull seal in one bite. To see one hunting in full flight! and flight is exactly the
right word as these ani#als are so strong they can leap well clear of the water despite
their huge si(e... to see one hunting in full flight is a sight so aweso#e! so terrifying!
that it is absolutely unforgettable.
The longer Cassie stood there anxiously swi"elling about and starting at e"ery
slight ripple! the #ore certain she beca#e that there was a great white so#ewhere
nearby! a great white who would not hesitate an instant to crunch her raft to
#atchwood and use the splinters to pick her feathers fro# his teeth. *nd then!
paralysed with fear! she saw it! a faint "ee of ripples heading straight for her. +he knew
the wake ca#e fro# the tip of a dorsal fin &ust creasing the surface of the sea. +he
knew there could be no escape. +he knew she was doo#ed and all she could think was
that she wished she had told Three-P exactly how she felt about hi#.
F"en for dolphins! e"en for a whale! it had been a long! hard haul. They had been
swi##ing at near full speed for well o"er 19-hours and there was no denying that they
were co#ing to the end of their strength. F"en so! Three-P wouldn>t hear of the#
stopping for a rest.
Nick Creech Three-P ;1
,2aster!, he kept urging the#. ,2aster. 3e #ust go faster.,
*t last! when the dolphins were on the point of open rebellion! of du#ping Three-P
and telling hi# to do it hi#self if he was so all-fired eager! %u#phrey stopped.
,/isten!, he said! cutting off Three-P>s protest. ,8ust listen...,
,3hat is it...4, d>*rtagnan began to say! but then he too fell silent.
,:h oh!, Porthos said finally.
,3hat4, Three-P de#anded.
,No ti#e!, d>*rtagnan said. ,* rescue< * rescue< *ll for one and one for all...
$nward<,
8ust when she thought the "ee would cut her in half! Cassie saw it turn aside and
then circle round her raft! suspiciously. The faint wake looked absolutely innocent but
Cassie could now #ake out a #onstrous! indistinct shape ho"ering beneath it! all the
#ore frightful for being &ust a shadow. *gain it car"ed right round her! and again! until
it see#ed to Cassie that it #ust cut a hole in the sea through which she would fall to
the botto#. Then it stopped co#pletely. The ripples "anished lea"ing &ust a faint #ass
which #ight or #ight not ha"e been there.
+till the shark &ust hung #otionless apparently trying to decide whether such a tiny
#orsel as a fairy penguin was worth the trouble of eating.
Then this was a slight swirl in the water and Cassie knew the shark had &ust
twitched his fin! that he was about to co#e for her! that the last thing she would see
would be his "ast! open &aws. )t was the end. The end of e"erything. )n another second
she would be torn to shreds and deep in the creature>s #aw...
*ll but fro(en with terror as she was! she #anaged to hop backwards to the edge of
the raft furthest away fro# the shark! deter#ined to #ake it as difficult as possible. )t
was then that there was a great uprush of water behind her. The raft danced and
swayed in the wash and she fell hea"ily.
,)n here<, a "oice behind her shouted! a "oice she knew. ,Guick< )n here<, *nd
without the least idea of what was happening or how this #agical refuge had suddenly
#aterialised! Cassie found herself rolling into what see#ed to be a large ca"e.
Nick Creech Three-P ;1
F"en to so#eone like Cassie! who herself li"ed on fish! the s#ell was appalling.
The ca"e snapped shut behind her and then Three-P had hold of her and was helping
her up.
,+hhhh!, he said! putting a flipper to her beak. $utside! they could hear a deep!
boo#ing "oice.
,)t ain>t worth the trouble!, the "oice said. ,But it>s da principle. Aat penguin is
#ine and ) want it. %and it o"er. ) ain>t usually bothered with whales but for you ) kin
break da rules...,
Cassie and Three-P clung to each other as their ca"e suddenly swayed "iolently
fro# side to side as though gripped by an earth-uake. )t was %u#phrey shaking his
head.
,3hasda#atter4, the shark de#anded a #o#ent later. ,Catfish got ya tongue4
+peak up or )>ll rip it out #eself.,
But of course! %u#phrey couldn>t speak for fear of crunching his two guests. )t
ca#e to Cassie in a rush that she couldn>t stay in this refuge! not at the whale>s
expense! not if the shark was going to tear hi# to pieces too.
,/et #e out!, she shouted. ,/et #e go. )t>s the only way. +a"e yourself., *gain
there was that "iolent #otion as %u#phrey shook his head! though this ti#e it was
directed at the tiny creature shouting inside hi#. Three-P looked at Cassie with
a#a(e#ent. %e had ne"er drea#ed that a girl could be so bra"e! so honourable.
,)t>s all right!, he said. ,3e>ll be all right...,
Cassie began to argue but was interrupted by another "oice outside! distant!
#uffled. )t was d>*rtagnan.
,$i< 2ish-face...<,
Cassie realised it #ust be one of Three-P>s dolphin friends and she had "isions of
hi# and the others being torn to pieces by the angry #onster. The situation was getting
worse and worse. %ow #any li"es would be lost trying to sa"e hers4 +he couldn>t bear
the thought but &ust then %u#phrey opened his #outh and she and Three-P were
suddenly able to see.
The shark was now in the centre of a wide circle for#ed by %u#phrey and the four
dolphins and he so#ehow appeared strangely uneasy.
Nick Creech Three-P ;5
,Ais ain>t nuffink to do with you lot!, the shark said and Cassie was astonished to
realise that there was al#ost a note of wheedling in his "oice. 3hat she didn>t know
was that while any shark #ight be #ore than happy to try conclusions with one
dolphin and en&oy wolfing the result! so to speak! facing a pod of the# was a "ery
different kettle of fish.
,Now you listen carefully! guts for brains!, d>*rtagnan went on. ,That>s our whale
and our penguins and )>ll gi"e you exactly three seconds to disappear...,
,$r what4, the shark said! but there was a distinct note of anxiety beneath the
truculence.
,$r war... one! two! three! charge<, d>*rtagnan roared.
*nd with one accord! the four dolphins re""ed the#sel"es up to ra##ing speed and
s#ashed into the shark with their snouts! which are properly called rostru#s. The four
si#ultaneous collisions ca#e to the penguins as one #ighty wha# that so#ehow
echoed and rolled for what see#ed like ages. F"en hu#ongous as he was! the shark
was lifted half out of the water by the i#pact and ca#e down gnashing and flailing. *
dolphin weighing o"er half a tonne and flying through the water at a speed of around
=D k# an hour #akes a "ery da#aging battering ra# and the shark! huge as he was!
was hurt and dis#ayed.
Cassie shrieked and Three-P gasped. %e was desperately afraid that his four friends
#ust be slaughtered by the writhing #onster but so#ehow they #anaged to win clear
without da#age and on d>*rtagnan>s signal they again roared into the attack. *gain! the
sound of the collision rolled across the water and again the shark reared up at the
i#pact. *nd this ti#e he had had enough. *s he crashed back into the water! he ga"e a
#ighty slash with his tail! do"e deep and kept on going.
Nick Creech Three-P ;9
Chapter =
Their &oy was unbounded. Not unnaturally! the dolphins and %u#phrey were rather
pleased with the#sel"es. There is no #ore for#idable opponent than a great white
shark and it had taken great courage for the# to face it down and dri"e it away! and of
course Cassie and Three-P were both ecstatic to ha"e sur"i"ed! ne"er #ind that they
were together again.
3hales #ight be solid! respectable citi(ens but hu#pbacks! particularly! do like to
breech! what you #ight call a breach of the peace! and %u#phrey hurtled out of the
water again and again! to crash down throwing out great sheets of spray. The four
dolphins! not to be outdone! did so#e strenuous for#ation leaping of their own. )t was
a wild celebration! a "ictory frolic! and Cassie and Three-P were lost in ad#iration.
*t last! Three-P turned to Cassie.
,) really #issed you!, he said -uietly. ,Ceally really really..., Cassie blushed. %er
natural shyness was about to o"erco#e her yet again but then she suddenly thought6 )f
) can face the you-know-what! ) can do anything.
,*nd ) was so #iserable when they banished you! ) thought ) was going to die!, she
said. They stared at each other hungrily! looking deep into one another>s eyes. They
were interrupted at last by another "oice.
,+o that>s all right!, d>*rtagnan said. :nnoticed! the wild gyrations of the others had
co#e to a natural end and they were now all watching the two little penguins with
bene"olent interest. This ti#e! they both blushed.
,+o ) suppose we should take you ho#e to Mickleburrow!, Three-P said at last! to
co"er his confusion.
,$h no!, Carey protested! aghast. ,) don>t want to go back. ) ne"er want to go back.
Not to Mickleburrow. Not to all those awful penguins.,
,But it>s your ho#e!, Three-P said. ,3hat will your #other say4,
,The sa#e as your #other!, Cassie retorted. +he was #uch too alar#ed at the
prospect of being taken ho#e to re#e#ber that she was supposed to be a #eek and
#ild little creature who wouldn>t say boo to a bri#.
,$h..., Three-P #anaged! now at a total loss.
Nick Creech Three-P ;;
,Aon>t worry..., d>*rtagnan began.
,+he>s welco#e...,
,J to stay with us...,
,J as long as she likes..., the others chi#ed in.
,*nd what about #e! sirs! Miss4, %u#phrey suddenly de#anded. F"eryone looked
at hi#! surprised. They had all thought he would want to return to his fa#ily as soon as
possible but %u#phrey was finding the pull of the buccaneering life with rescues and
battles and the prospect of who knew what further ad"entures a #ost powerful pull.
,My goodness!, d>*rtagnan said! after a #o#ent. ,+o now we are se"en...,
,The seagoing se"en...,
,The serendipitous se"en...,
,The sensational se"en...,
,) know!, *ra#is suddenly said. ,/et>s take the# to the Aolphins> Aance...,
,Brilliant..., Porthos said.
,+uper..., *thos said.
,$h! what fun..., d>*rtagnan said.
Three-P and Cassie looked at each other. Neither of the# had e"er heard of the
Aolphins> Aance! which is not surprising as it is a "ery great secret! but e"ery year in
e"ery ocean of the world on the night of the su##er solstice! dolphins gather in great
nu#bers in the #ost secluded reaches of the se"en seas to celebrate the ending of one
annual cycle and the beginning of the next. +o#eti#es #ariners co#e across great
schools of dolphins! thousands strong! ob"iously on so#e sort of purposeful &ourney. )t
is an aweso#e sight as such a school e"en swi##ing on a "ery wide front can take
hours to pass. *nd a seafarer pri"ileged to witness such an e"ent can>t help but wonder
where these thousands and thousands of dolphins #ight be going in such a hurry all at
the sa#e ti#e. 3ell! the answer is si#ple if deeply #ysterious. They are all on their
way to the dance.
But when the four #usketeers had finished explaining! Three-P and Cassie looked
at each other doubtfully.
,3on>t we be intruding4, Cassie asked hesitantly.
Nick Creech Three-P ;=
,Not at all!, d>*rtagnan said.
,0ou will be our honoured guests!, Porthos said.
,*nd %u#phrey!, *ra#is said.
,*nd it will be the first ti#e a whale has e"er been in"ited!, *thos said. ,Ne"er
#ind a pair of penguins.,
%u#phrey looked e#barrassed but secretly was beside hi#self with excite#ent.
Being a whale he was naturally aware of the dance but had ne"er drea#ed he #ight
e"er be able to go. )t was generally understood that dolphins took a di# "iew of
gatecrashers and as he had seen with the you-know-what were -uite able to enforce
their wishes. But a for#al in"itation was -uite a different #atter.
)t was a long! long &ourney but for Cassie and Three-P absolutely delightful! day
after day of brilliant weather! good food! good co#pany and best of all! ti#e to really
get to know each other. The four dolphins would take it in turns to be sea chariot and
the two little penguins riding at ease had all the ti#e in the world to tell each other
e"erything. Cassie had hoped all along that Three-P would be her soul#ate! but to
Three-P hi#self their extended courtship was a re"elation. Ne"er once was he bored.
Ne"er once did he wish that Cassie would &ust shut up. Ne"er once did he feel the
need! as he had so often done in the past! to go off by hi#self. *nd there was no
denying that life was infinitely #ore fun when shared with so#eone for who# you
cared deeply.
*s the little co#pany #ade its way further and further out into the "ast! e#pty
reaches of the +outh Pacific! the secret places! they began to encounter groups of other
dolphins all heading for the annual rende("ous. A>*rtagnan and the others see#ed to
know e"eryone and there were so #any introductions that %u#phrey and the penguins
ga"e up all hope of re#e#bering anyone>s na#e. %owe"er! it didn>t #atter in the least.
Aolphins are generally the happiest of creatures and they were only too pleased to
welco#e the three outsiders once it had been established that they were being properly
sponsored.
The s#all groups of dolphins all heading in the sa#e direction began to coalesce
into strea#s and then ri"ers! until finally it see#ed that the whole surface of the sea
was one! solid carpet of hea"ing backs. )t was the #ost astonishing sight and it
Nick Creech Three-P ;?
appeared to Cassie and Three-P that the dolphins were so thick about the# that they
would be able to get off *ra#is! their chariot for the day! and walk.
*s the bal#y afternoon drew on and twilight began to fall the infectious excite#ent
of the #assed crowds boiled and bubbled until it was so thick in the air you could
al#ost taste it. *t last! d>*rtagnan turned to the two penguins.
,Ti#e for you to &oin %u#phrey!, he said. ,)t won>t be safe for you to stay with
*ra#is..., 3ithout #ore ado! Cassie and Three-P slipped into the water! swa# to the
whale and began to work their way up his back until they were ensconced on his broad
forehead. They both thought the sa#e thing. .randstand seats had ne"er co#e grander.
The sun disappeared below the hori(on and then set about turning the great
colu#ns of cu#ulus in the sky into #assi"e towers of scarlet and gold and a thousand
hues in between! a setting so #agnificent that it was hard to re#e#ber to breathe.
There was a #o#ent of stillness and then at so#e signal undetectable to the three
spectators! the #assed dolphins! all the thousands and thousands of the#! e"ery last
one! rose up on their tails until they see#ed to be standing on the water and then they
began to dance! all in unison! all bowing in turn to their neighbours! dipping and
circling each other with gra"e courtesy! offering congratulations for the year &ust
passed and hopes for the year about to begin.
Then at another undetectable signal! parties of dolphins here and there would
disappear beneath the surface to erupt suddenly into the fla#ing sky! soaring!
tu#bling! so#ersaulting! fountains of li"ing fireworks! their glistening skins reflecting
the fiery colours fro# abo"e so that they too were rainbow hued and totally #agical.
Cassie and Three-P stood #otionless! awestruck! holding each other>s flipper and
gripped by a spectacle -uite beyond their wildest i#agining. )t was as though the
whole extraordinary perfor#ance! stretching as far as the eye could see! had been
#ounted for their exclusi"e wonder.
*t last! the sunset darkened to be supplanted by the sil"er iridescence of a huge! full
#oon creeping abo"e the hori(on and picking out each indi"idual of that extraordinary
gathering like a spotlights on a stage. $n and on the dolphins danced! ne"er ceasing!
ne"er wearying! in the #ost &oyous celebration! ho#age to the #iracle of life.
The dawn ca#e -uietly! apologetically! with &ust a faint ri# of colour as though
reluctant to intrude. )t need not ha"e worried. *s the #oon had declined and finally
Nick Creech Three-P ;@
slipped below the hori(on! so the dolphins indi"idually and in groups had slipped
below the surface of the sea and disappeared until finally! only the four #usketeers
re#ained gathered about %u#phrey and the penguins. Nobody spoke! nobody e"en
thought of speaking! not until it was full daylight and the enchant#ent of the night
before was truly only a #e#ory. F"en then! there was nothing to say. 3ords would
only sully the #agic and Three-P and Cassie! in particular! needed to say nothing to
know they were now bound together for life.
F"eryone was in a -uiet! conte#plati"e #ood and they a#bled along for days in no
hurry to get anywhere! content &ust to en&oy each other>s co#pany with a bit of fishing
here and a bit of rollicking there &ust to keep their flippers in. *nd of course! dolphins
being dolphins and penguins being penguins and %u#phrey being %u#phrey! slowly
the rollicking gained te#po until e"erything was -uite back to nor#al until! that is!
%u#phrey surfaced fro# one of his deep di"es! berating hi#self fro# not paying
proper attention to the wwww and it>s warning syste#. %e was now looking as pale as
a certain! fa#ous white whale.
,3hat>s up with you4, *ra#is de#anded.
,+een a ghost! then4, Porthos asked.
,$r are you thinking of changing your na#e4, *thos said.
,+hould we be calling you Moby Aick4, d>*rtagnan finished.
,Ao shut up..., Three-P hollered.
,+o#ething>s wrong..., Cassie said. ,3hat is it! %u#phrey4,
,$h #iss..., %u#phrey started! then words failed hi#.
,3hat4, the four dolphins de#anded si#ultaneously! suddenly realising there was
trouble afoot.
,$h sirs..., %u#phrey tried again! but his "oice trailed into silence at the horror of
the situation.
,3hat4, the dolphins repeated! now seriously alar#ed.
,3halers!, %u#phrey #anaged to say. ,The whalers are co#ing. They>re nearly
here...,
Nick Creech Three-P ;B
Three-P and Cassie looked at each other! #ystified! but the dolphins knew all too
well what %u#phrey was talking about.
,They>re hu#ans!, d>*rtagnan explained.
,*nd hu#ans are the #ost dangerous...,
,J the cruellest...,
,J the #ost "icious of all ani#als...,
,3hy hu#ans kill creatures like us &ust for fun! when they>re not e"en hungry...,
,*nd whalers are so#e of the worst of all...,
,They shoot harpoon things into whales like %u#phrey...,
,3hich explode and kill the# slowly...,
,)n agony...,
,3e>"e e"en seen the# towing harpooned whales backwards to drown the# when
the bo#b thing was taking too long...,
,%u#ans are worse than you-know-what...,
,2ar worse...,
,%u#ans are horrible...,
,%u#ans are hateful...,
,%u#ans are hideous...,
,%u#ans are horrors...,
,+o what are we going to do to help %u#phrey4, Three-P interrupted. %e was
afraid that once the four dolphins got properly started there would ne"er be an end to
their tirade.
,Fscape...,
,2lee...,
,+wi# for it...,
But it was too late. Because they were all so low to the water! none of the se"en
co#panions could see any great distance abo"e the surface. 3hile they had been
talking! the whale catching fleet had stea#ed up o"er the hori(on and was now "ery
close. The se"en friends looked up to find a line of ships bearing rapidly down on
Nick Creech Three-P =D
the#. )n the centre! there was the large! factory ship and ranged on either flank were
the catchers! s#all! fast! hunter-killers! each with a wicked harpoon gun #ounted on
the foc>sle. There was only one word for the#. They were e"il! absolutely e"il.
*nd as they watched! stunned! aghast! the nearest catcher broke away fro# the fleet
and turned sharply in their direction. $b"iously! so#eone had spotted %u#phrey.
0a#asaki san anxiously prowled the bridge of the factory ship! the Nisshin-#aru.
+o far! it had been poor hunting that season for so#e reason! the whales see#ed
#agically to ha"e disappeared and as captain of the fleet he would be held
responsible. +o when a lookout reported a spout far to the east! he turned his whole
co##and in pursuit to #ake sure the -uarry had no chance of escape. This was one
whale he was deter#ined to kill and butcher. 3hen he was sure the whale was trapped!
he dispatched his #ost reliable catcher! the one with the best harpoonist! to #ake the
shot. Meanwhile! he deployed the other catchers in a wide circle in case the whale
#anaged to di"e deep and #ake a run for it.
They were fro(en with horror! all se"en of the#. The doo# dashing towards the#
was ineluctable! inexorable! ine"itable. %u#phrey was going to die. %e was going to
die horribly. There was no possible escape. They were surrounded and howe"er deep
%u#phrey di"ed! howe"er far he #anaged to flee underwater! the whalers would track
hi# and slaughter hi# when he was finally forced up for air and there was nothing!
absolutely nothing! his friends could do to pre"ent it.
Three-P stared fixedly at the assassin ship racing towards the#. )t was "ery close
now! nearly in range! and his friend a friend for who# he had risked his own life at
least twice would be shot and tortured to death. )n an instant! the ice around Three-
P>s heart shattered and he was filled instead with cold rage.
,A>*rtagnan!, he co##anded. ,3ith #e. Porthos! take Cassie...,
Three-P knew it was hopeless! that at best it could be a gesture only! but
ne"ertheless he was deter#ined to #ake it. %onour! ne"er #ind friendship! de#anded
it.
Nick Creech Three-P =1
2at 0oshi! skipper and harpoonist of catcher No. 5! ducked out of the wheelhouse
and hurried for>ard. %e slipped in behind the gun and settled hi#self co#fortably! his
hands auto#atically dropping into position on the controls! worn to a polish by
hundreds of executions. 2at 0oshi lo"ed his gun. %e had e"en #odified it to his own
design! fitting it with a telescopic sight. )t was -uite unnecessary of course! but 0oshi
like all his fa#ily! like e"eryone in his "illage! was deeply superstitious and a#ong
#any other "ery strange things he had co#e to belie"e with all his heart that it was the
sight that was the secret of his continuing success as the nu#ber one harpoonist in all
Nippon.
%e flipped off the co"er and ad&usted the focus but then! instead of curling his
finger lo"ingly around the trigger as he had done so #any ti#es before! he reeled back
in shock. 3hat confronted hi# was not the broad back of a &uicy whale but the staring
i#age of an enraged little penguin! enlarged to fearso#e proportions and gesticulating
de#entedly. *nd if that wasn>t sufficiently terrifying! the penguin appeared to be riding
on a dolphin! standing up like a surfer! and charging straight towards hi#. 3orse! there
was second penguin on a dolphin following close behind! and two #ore dolphins.
2at 0oshi paled and broke into a sweat. %is skin prickled where it was chafed by the
band of his cap and an oily drop slid down between his eyes and onto his nose.
Ae#ons< )t was the only explanation. Ae#ons of the deep< %is fa#ily had warned
hi# ti#e and again. F"eryone in his "illage had warned hi#. But because for so #any
years he had been spared! he had grown co#placent! careless. %e had al#ost stopped
belie"ing and that was the worst thing of all. +ensing his incipient betrayal they were
now assaulting hi#! in broad daylight what>s #ore! deter#ined to wreak "engeance
upon hi#.
%e shrieked. %e couldn>t help it. * #an! a whaler! could face anything! anything
natural! but not de#ons. Nowhere in his contract did it #ention anything about
de#ons. %e shrieked again. Closer. They were racing closer. *l#ost close enough to
board! and then who knew what would happen. The rest of the crew! e-ually
superstitious! caught his panic and without anyone gi"ing an order! the hel#s#an put
the wheel hard a>port and catcher No.5 frantically fled the scene! careering wildly all
o"er the ocean! still pursued by the de#ons.
The rest of the whaling fleet watched in astonish#ent and listened anxiously to the
garbled hysteria strea#ing fro# the radio. )nstincti"ely! and again without any orders
being gi"en! they all began to edge away. 2at 0oshi was a good #an! the best
Nick Creech Three-P =1
harpoonist anyone had e"er seen! and if he said there were de#ons how could they not
but belie"e hi#4 F"eryone knew there were de#ons out here in the deep ocean.
F"eryone knew de#ons could assu#e the shape of any ani#al they chose in order to
attack you. *nd e"eryone knew what de#ons would do to you if they caught you...
*nd here they were pursuing catcher No.5 like the de#ented beings they were! clearly
deter#ined to wreak upon it a terrible fate. The sidling away -uickly beca#e outright
flight! and then a rout.
0a#asaki san was furious. %e had ne"er heard such absolute nonsense in all his
life. 3hate"er was going on o"er there! it was not de#ons. But he also knew that he
would ne"er con"ince his #en that there was so#e perfectly natural explanation for
one of his catcher ships being hunted all o"er the ocean &ust like... &ust like a whale.
Celuctantly he was forced to cut his losses and &oin the retreat! #uttering darkly the
while about ignorant peasants who ne"er should ha"e left their rice paddies and
estee#ed the#sel"es to be sea#en. )t was all so galling it was beyond belief.
,3hat4, Three-P said. +uddenly! the others were all staring at hi#! staring with
awe! with a#a(e#ent! with profound affection.
,+ir! how can ) e"er thank you!, %u#phrey said. ,*gain! you...,
,$h rubbish!, Three-P interrupted rudely. ,3e>re friends. 2riends help each other.
That>s what friends do.,
,/ook!, Cassie said! adroitly changing the sub&ect. ,They>"e gone co#pletely., %er
heart was bursting with pride for Three-P but she understood that nothing #ade hi#
#ore unco#fortable than praise.
,But why ha"e they gone4, d>*rtagnan asked. ,)t #akes no sense.,
,3ho cares4, Porthos said.
,.ood riddance to bad rubbish!, *thos said.
,*nd hu#ans are the worst rubbish of all!, *ra#is finished.
Nick Creech Three-P =5
Chapter ?
* crowd baying for blood is a terrible thing. )t is beyond thought! beyond reason. )t
has no sha#e. Three-P had been expelled fro# Mickleburrow by &ust such a crowd! a
lynch #ob! and for days the town re#ained in a fer#ent. )t was the #ost exciting e"ent
that anyone could e"er re#e#ber. %owe"er! slowly! e"entually! here and there! the
#ore sensible penguins began to think again. *nd the #ore they thought! the #ore
un&ust Three-P>s banish#ent began to see#. *fter all! &ust what exactly had he been
guilty of4 +urfing with so#e dolphins4 3ell! pretty #uch e"eryone had the sa#e
opinion about dolphins! #ad! bad and dangerous to know! but e"en so! Three-P>s
escapade had been entirely har#less. +ensible penguins began to realise that if
$beron>s dignity had not been so offended by being used as a football! then Three-P
ne"er would ha"e recei"ed such a se"ere punish#ent.
+urfing with the dolphins was not so#ething any other penguin in Mickleburrow
would e"er ha"e thought of! ne"er #ind conte#plated for a #o#ent! but the fact that
Three-P had chosen to do so was not of itself necessarily sinful. 3hen you ca#e right
down to it! #uch worse things happen at sea. +o in the final analysis! all Three-P could
really be accused of was being different and if being different was suddenly a hanging
offence! so to speak! then who knew who else #ight be dragged before the court and
kicked out of Mickleburrow at $beron>s whi#. *nd when you thought really hard
about that! you began to realise that if $beron wasn>t already a terrible tyrant! he could
easily beco#e one. *nd so! the #uttering began.
Titania beca#e aware of it first! a ground-swell of opinion which she dis#issed out
of flipper. Peasants. Peons. /ittle people. 3hispering behind her back.3ho cared
what they thought4 * s#art slap across the beak and they>d do what they>d always
done! bow and scrape. But it turned out to be not so si#ple. +he actually did slap -uite
a few but it &ust #eant that instead of #uttering! they began to openly criticise! e"en
shout.
2inally she went to $beron! deeply alar#ed. )t was getting -uite out of control! she
told hi#. %e would ha"e to act! and act now. * short! sharp lesson was urgently
re-uired before their authority was seriously under#ined.
*t first $beron tried to ignore the Gueen>s concerns! &ust another one of her "apours
he told hi#self. 2ish had been delightfully plentiful recently and he was feeling
Nick Creech Three-P =9
particularly well-fed and relaxed. )ndeed! his "alet was finding it increasingly difficult
to fasten his cu##erbund about his royal person all the ad&ust#ent was -uite used
up but rather than fat! perish the thought! $beron preferred to think of hi#self as
ha"ing a #agisterial figure entirely appropriate to his position.
%e looked up fro# his ele"enses! a fine dish of #ullet! as Titania ca#e sweeping in
to his pri"ate cha#ber. %e was distinctly put out at this #ost inopportune interruption
and buried his beak deep in his fish! hoping she would get bored and go away. But
Titania &ust stood there! tapping her foot #ore and #ore i#patiently.
,3hat now4, $beron was at last forced to de#and. $rdinarily! Titania would ha"e
flown straight back at hi#! so to speak! sparking yet another row pleasurable to both of
the# theirs was a fighting #arriage but now! the situation was far too serious.
,Ciot< Cebellion< Ce"olution<, she snapped. ,That>s what<,
,3hy! #y dear! whate"er can you #ean4, $beron said. %is "oice was suddenly oily
as he tried to change tack. ,3hate"er it is! )># sure it can wait till to#orrow! "ery
possibly next week...,
,3ait<, Titania shrieked. ,There>s far too #uch weighting around here as it is!, and
she pointed rudely at $beron>s royal girth. %e sighed and looked sadly at his #ullet.
%owe"er! when he had finally absorbed and understood what Titania had to tell hi#!
he was e-ually alar#ed.
,$utrageous!, he said! forgetting all about his ele"enses in his agitation. ,%ow dare
they4,
,) know!, Titania said. ,Aespicable. But the -uestion is! what are we going to do
about it4,
3ell! thinking was ne"er $beron>s strong suit. *part fro# anything else! thinking
tends to be "ery hard work and if there was one thing $beron detested abo"e all else it
was work! any sort of work! ne"er #ind hard work. %owe"er! after hours and hours of
frantic cogitation which #ade his te#per e"en worse! if that were possible! he finally
ca#e up with a plan.
3hen Mrs Puddle answered the pere#ptory honk at the door of the fa#ily burrow
she was astonished to find not only the king but PC 2latfoot and at least a do(en other
tough-looking birds! who en&oyed acting as $beron>s #uscle whene"er he felt the
Nick Creech Three-P =;
need. They all looked particularly gri#! not to say threatening. +he stepped back in
alar#! all a-flutter and a-fluster.
,.et Puddle out here i##ediately!, $beron de#anded without so #uch as a >good
afternoon> or >) trust ) find you well>.
,Fr! er! he>s...,
,Now. $r we>ll co#e in and get hi#.,
,...Not here!, Mrs Puddle finally #anaged to get out. ,%e>s off fishing. 3here else
would he be on a fine sunny afternoon4,
Mr Puddle propelled hi#self out of the water to #ake a nice! three-point landing
Lthat>s tail and both feetM on the usual rock ledge! the way penguins do! shook the water
out of his eyes and stopped in a#a(e#ent. F"ening was falling but there was still -uite
enough light to re"eal that he was surrounded by an o#inous se#icircle of the biggest!
toughest penguins in Mickleburrow! standing shoulder to shoulder. Behind the# was a
crowd of curious onlookers and his wife! he saw! was a#ong the#! hopping up and
down and trying to peer through the gaps. $beron stepped forward.
,*h Puddle!, he said confidentially. ,) want to ha"e a word with you., %e #otioned
to the ring of guards and they began to shuffle backwards! herding the crowd! until
$beron could speak without being o"erheard! except! that is! by a stray seagull
ho"ering unnoticed o"erhead.
,+o! how was the fishing4, $beron asked &o"ially. ,Catch your dinner then4,
Mr Puddle shifted awkwardly. Ne"er before had he e"er had occasion to speak with
the 7ing and he was o"erwhel#ed into silence.
,The thing is! Puddle!, $beron went on. ,) need to ask a fa"our of you! a "ery s#all
fa"our! but i#portant nonetheless.,
,* fa"our4, Mr Puddle #anaged to ask.
,3ell! #ore a case of doing the right thing. +tanding up for principle! don>t you
see4,
,No!, Mr Puddle said! beco#ing #ore and #ore confused. ,) don>t see at all...,
,More a #atter of co##on decency than anything. $f course! if you don>t agree
then it will be incu#bent on #e as your king to consider what further action ) should
Nick Creech Three-P ==
take., *nd $beron gestured subtly towards the encircling ring of thugs. Mr Puddle
flapped his flippers in"oluntarily. Though the #ost #ild-#annered of penguins! #ild-
#annered to a fault! e"en he was beco#ing exasperated at $beron>s e"asions.
,But what is it exactly that you want #e to do4,
,+o ) ha"e your agree#ent! then4, $beron said with a crafty look in his eye! but
e"en Mr Puddle was ne"er going to fall for that.
,%ow can ) agree to anything until ) know what it is that you want4, %is "oice was
beginning to rise and $beron tapped hi# sharply on the chest to re#ind hi# to who#
he was speaking.
,This business with your son!, $beron said. ,) #ight say this disgraceful business
with your son and the dolphins... unheard-of! unprecedented! outrageous... )t has co#e
to #y attention that so#e #isguided penguins! #ost #isguided! are whispering that
Pengelly has been treated un&ustly... No! don>t interrupt... *ccordingly! ) re-uire you to
issue a state#ent to the effect that you fully support the lawful decision of the court
and that further! had the court not acted as it did! you would ha"e been forced to
i#pose a si#ilarly se"ere punish#ent yourself as his father. ) trust ) #ake #yself
clear.,
Mr Puddle was flabbergasted.
,3-3hat4, he e"entually #anaged to sta##er.
,Co#e! co#e. )t>s a "ery si#ple re-uest and will take you only a #o#ent.,
There was a long! long silence broken only by the lap of the water on the rocks. *t
last! Mr Puddle drew hi#self up to his full! not "ery significant height! straightened his
back and thrust out his chest. Meek he #ight be! inconse-uential he certainly was! but
that didn>t #ake hi# a coward! nor did it #ean he couldn>t tell right fro# wrong nor
that he was prepared to be bullied.
,0our %ighness!, he began for#ally. ,3hy don>t you go take a running &u#p4 *nd )
hope you fall flat on your beak. )t could only i#pro"e it.,
Now as it happened! $beron was particularly proud of his royal features!
particularly his beak! so to add this sort of insult to the in&ury of refusal was galling in
the extre#e. Ne"ertheless! out of need he #anaged to contain his te#per. 2or the
#o#ent.
Nick Creech Three-P =?
,Puddle!, he said breathing hea"ily. ,0ou would be well ad"ised to consider
carefully before refusing., Mr Puddle! howe"er! said nothing. %e si#ply turned on his
heel and #ade to lea"e! but before he could take a step $beron gestured angrily and
the thugs closed in on hi#.
,Take hi# to the prison burrow!, $beron shouted. ,*nd Puddle! you needn>t think
)>ll let you out until you agree. /et>s see if a taste of star"ation will change your #ind.,
.ully 8i#son ca#e screa#ing down out of a clear blue sky! shrieking like a
banshee. %ow he had #anaged to find the# was a saga in itself but &ust -uickly! a
passing seal had suggested he speak to a whale or two! whales as e"eryone ought to
know being the greatest gossips in the ocean! and because of %u#phrey>s now
instantly fa#ous escape fro# the whalers! one thing had led to another.
To say the se"en co#panions were surprised at .ully>s sudden appearance was
putting it all together too #ildly. *nd to say they were horrified at the story he had to
tell was hopelessly inade-uate. Three-P see#ed to swell to it least twice his si(e. )n all
honesty he couldn>t clai# to be particularly close to his father but ne"ertheless! for hi#
to be i#prisoned and star"ed for refusing to conde#n his son was si#ply outrageous.
*nd the #ore he thought about it! the #ore Three-P ca#e to realise that he had
ne"er properly appreciated that beneath his #eek and #ild exterior! his father actually
had a core of steel! a core that was entirely ad#irable and praiseworthy. *long with the
pulsing anger! Three-P found that he was now also feeling the double beat of pulsing
pride.
$nly Cassie was anything but totally furious. +he could foresee great trouble ahead
and was deeply fearful of what #ight happen to Three-P.
,0ou can>t go back!, she said anxiously to Three-P. ,0ou #ustn>t go back to
Mickleburrow. 3ho knows what dreadful things they>ll do to you4,
,) ha"e no choice!, Three-P said. ,*nd )># surprised at you trying to stop #e., )t
was the first ti#e there had been e"en a hint of disagree#ent between the#.
,But it will be so dangerous!, Cassie said desperately. ,0ou can>t go back. 0ou>"e
been banished., +he knew Mr Puddle of course and wished hi# no har#! but all her
concern! all her fears were for Three-P. +he couldn>t bear the thought of anything
happening to hi# now that they were finally together.
Nick Creech Three-P =@
Three-P! howe"er! outraged and itching for a fight could think only of his father.
:nconsciously! he drew away fro# Cassie lea"ing her #iserable as well as frightened.
The dolphins and %u#phrey looked at each other unhappily. Their idyll had been so
rudely shattered! see#ingly in an instant! that they all felt confused and bereft.
*s it happened! they were at that #o#ent not as far as they #ight ha"e been fro#
Mickleburrow. They had been a#bling along! content to follow one of the great eddies
in the ocean current which had circled the# back in towards the coastline. They were
now perhaps only three day>s hard swi# fro# the island. )t was &ust possible they
#ight get there before it was too late.
F"en dolphins can>t go on indefinitely. Much against Three-P>s wishes they had
stopped for a short rest. %u#phrey had taken the chance to di"e deep and check the
wwww &ust in case there were #ore whalers around he was deter#ined ne"er to be
caught so unawares e"er again and .ully 8i#son had flown ahead on yet another
reconnaissance #ission. They could see hi# a dot in the distance on his way back
when suddenly there was a great swirl in the water nearby and %u#phrey e#erged!
sputtering and spouting.
,Terrible news<, he said as soon as he could speak.
,Not #ore whalers...4, d>*rtagnan began.
,No! no!, %u#phrey said. ,Much worse than that. There>s been an earth-uake off
the coast of Chile...,
,Chile! where>s Chile...4, *ra#is began.
,No idea..., Porthos said.
,But ) bet it>s free(ing cold! with a na#e like that..., *thos said.
,Be -uiet< /et hi# speak<, Three-P roared.
,Chile is on the other side of our ocean!, %u#phrey said. ,Thousands of kilo#etres
away...,
,+o what does an earth-uake all the way o"er there #atter4, Three-P interrupted
despite ha"ing yelled at the others.
,)t>s set off a tsuna#i!, %u#phrey said.
Nick Creech Three-P =B
The others all looked at each other! #ystified. None of the# had any idea what a
tsuna#i #ight be! and there was no particular reason they should. By and large! a
tsuna#i has no effect on the creatures of the deep oceans. 3hen an undersea
earth-uake shifts the earth>s crust there can so#eti#es be a huge release of energy
which is trans#itted through the sea in the for# of a wa"e! tra"elling at hundreds of
kilo#etres an hour. $ut to sea! if it is noticeable at all it re"eals itself only as a passing
ripple but when the ocean floor starts to shel"e as it nears land then the tsuna#i begins
to be constricted and to build! until it beco#es a towering! raging wall of water!
uni#aginably powerful and able to sweep all before it. Tsuna#is when they hit land
are one of the #ost fearful things nature has e"er created and can cause terrible
de"astation and destruction.
Think of the worst stor# you can i#agine and the huge! pounding surf that builds
up. Terrible as such wa"es are! they are #o"ing at only about =D k# an hour. *
tsuna#i will race along #ore than 1D ti#es faster! at well o"er =DD k# an hour! which
gi"es so#e idea of the huge forces it contains. *nd if it #o"es so fast! you #ight
wonder how it was that %u#phrey could psossibly ha"e recei"ed any warning that one
was co#ing. 3ell! as it happens! sound tra"els through water e"en faster than a
tsuna#i about se"en ti#es faster.
%u#phrey being a well-educated young whale knew all about tsuna#is and the
speed of sound through water but it took -uite so#e ti#e and a lot of explanation
before e"eryone else understood. .ully 8i#son arri"ed in the #iddle of it all! and poor
%u#phrey had to start his explanation all o"er again. But at last the situation was clear
to e"eryone! and it was also clear that Mickleburrow was in the gra"est danger. F"en a
s#all tsuna#i would sweep right o"er the island and inundate the underground
penguin city! destroying e"erything and! #ore i#portantly! anyone caught thereK
so#eone like Mr Puddle! buried deep in the prison burrow. F"en if he hadn>t already
star"ed to death! Mr Puddle would ha"e no chance of sur"i"ing the tsuna#i.
The only spark of hope in the gloo# was that .ully 8i#son was able to report that
Mickleburrow was now only a couple of hours away.
,3ell! it looks &ust the sa#e!, Three-P said to Cassie! sur"eying the island now
clearly in sight. %e could feel that she was unhappy with hi# without any real idea
why and was trying to be conciliatory. Cassie &ust sighed! but Three-P was right.
Nick Creech Three-P ?D
Mickleburrow looked exactly the sa#e as it always had. They had all paused and were
rocking gently to the #otion of the wa"es! looking at the distant land.
,+o what>s the plan4, d>*rtagnan asked Three-P. *fter their "arious ad"entures
together e"eryone auto#atically deferred to the little penguin in #o#ents of crisis. %e
was their acknowledged leader though Three-P hi#self was always reluctant to tell
anyone what to do. %e had re#ained a hu#ble hero and e"eryone lo"ed hi# all the
#ore for it.
,) don>t know!, Three-P said honestly. ,) ha"e to #ake the# all lea"e the island
before the tsuna#i gets here and ) ha"e to free #y father! but ) don>t know how. They
all hate #e. They won>t listen. ) know they won>t listen...,
.ully 8i#son interrupted with a s-uawk.
,Aon>t be too sure about that! young sir!, he said. ,* lot of the# are starting to think
you ne"er should ha"e been banished. 3hat we need is so#ething to get their
attention...,
,)t>s too dangerous!, Cassie said softly. ,3hat if the tsuna#i hits while you>re there4
%ow long ha"e we got4,
,Not long!, %u#phrey said. ,*n hour! #aybe two! not #ore.,
,)t>s too dangerous!, Cassie said again! insistently! but nobody heard her.
,)>"e got an idea!, Three-P said al#ost si#ultaneously and e"eryone turned to hi#
expectantly. Three-P>s ideas were well worth listening to. %e began to talk and the
others began to grin! all except Cassie.
The news rocketed around Mickleburrow! extraordinary news! and first a trickle!
then a great a"alanche of penguins raced for the shore. No one wanted to #iss this
e"en if they didn>t belie"e it could possibly be happening. )t was ob"iously totally
incredible. +o#ebody was drea#ing! or hallucinating! or both. )t was si#ply
i#possible. )t could ne"er happen. Ne"er. Ne"er. Ne"er.
But it was! it was happening and as #ore and #ore excited! chattering penguins
hurried up! they too fell silent until there was a "ast crowd of the#! unnaturally silent!
scarcely daring to breathe! lost in conte#plation of the spectacle before the#.
Nick Creech Three-P ?1
Chapter @
The tide was in! that was the first thing! which #eant there was deep water right up
to the low cliff at the southern end of the island. *nd that #eant the great whale
swi##ing towards the# could co#e all the way in to the shore. That was the second
thing. *nd that #eant that in due course the penguin standing on the whale>s brow and
riding hi# like chariot! when the ti#e ca#e could &ust hop across onto the island to
stand before the# like an all-con-uering hero. Ciding a dolphin was one sort of
exploit! and -uite enough to be going on with! but riding a great whale...
That was the third thing and it was astounding. )t was astonishing. )t was a#a(ing.
)t was incredible! inconcei"able. )t was uni#aginable! unthinkable! unheard-of. )t was
stunning. )t was stupefying. )t was stupendous. *nd #ost of all! it was absolutely
#agnificent.
The awestruck silence lasted for what see#ed like hours and then suddenly!
spontaneously! si#ultaneously the crowd burst into a great roaring cheer that went on
and on. *nd as they honked and hooted! clapped their flippers and slapped their feet!
the word passed a#ong the#. ,)t>s Puddle... Pengelly... Pengelly Perce"al Puddle...
Three-P...,
/ike e"eryone else! $beron and Titania had been drawn to the clifftop. $beron had
watched the unfolding scene with #ounting en"y. )t should ha"e been hi# riding the
#onstrous whale and stepping ashore so nonchalantly to the plaudits of his adoring
sub&ects. But it wasn>t! it was that horrible little Puddle penguin! the one he had
banished so deser"edly for bringing #ockery down on his king! the one whose father
e"en now was continuing to defy hi#! preferring to star"e to death rather than do the
right and proper thing. * "ariation on that nasty little refrain began to dru# in $beron>s
brain6 if there>s trouble! it>s #ust be a Puddle. Fn"y and aggra"ation co#bined to for#
a poisonous! corrosi"e acid deep in his sto#ach. This rotten! little bird si#ply could
not be tolerated any longer! and he was &ust the king to deal with such a situation.
%e stepped forward! his flipper raised accusingly on high and pointing at Three-P
with unwa"ering "iciousness. .radually! the crowd behind hi# fell silent! silent and
expectant. 3hate"er was going to happen could only be the #ost thrilling e"ent in any
of their lifeti#es and nobody wanted to #iss a syllable.
Nick Creech Three-P ?1
*t last! when he was certain that he had e"eryone>s undi"ided attention! $beron
spoke! sorrowfully! disdainfully6
,Throw that ob&ect o"er the cliff!, he said in a clear! carrying "oice. ,)t is sullying
our beautiful island.,
%owe"er! nobody! not e"en $beron>s palace guard! #o"ed. *nd e"en though it
see#ed i#possible that it could! the hush deepened as e"eryone si#ultaneously held
their breath! waiting to see how Three-P would respond. %e didn>t disappoint the#.
,Be -uiet<, he said reasonably. ,$r )>ll feed you to #y whale.,
The crowd gasped and $beron found his beak opening and shutting wordlessly as
he groped for so#e sort of reply that wasn>t totally ridiculous.
,Now all of you!, Three-P went on. ,/isten "ery carefully. )n a little while! #inutes!
an hour! a catastrophe will hit this island. 3e #ust e"acuate. +wi# to deep water. 3e>ll
be safe there. But we #ust do it now.,
There was a #o#ent of astonished silence and then the #ultitude broke into a
cacophony of speculation! e"erybody speaking at once6
,3hat did he say4... * catastrophe4... 3hat>s he talking about4... 3hat can he
#ean4..., *nd on and on.
Three-P waited patiently and at last the racket of hundreds and hundreds of
penguins all shouting at each other in an effort to try to #ake the#sel"es heard
gradually began to subside. :nnoticed! Cassie hopped up to stand beside Three-P.
*ra#is had brought her into the usual landing place and she had #ade her way along
the well re#e#bered paths of the island to the clifftop.
The last person to fall silent was Titania who self-consciously stopped in #id-shriek
when she suddenly realised she was the only one still speaking! or #ore accurately!
yelling. +he had been shouting at $beron! de#anding he do so#ething! anything! to
get rid of Three-P. 2or his part! $beron was still standing there! beak opening and
shutting foolishly! soundlessly. %e had no idea at all how to handle this situation.
F"ents were -uite out of his control.
3hen at last the crowd was -uiet enough to hear a feather rustle and e"ery eye was
fixed upon hi#! Three-P raised both his flippers and began to speak.
,) ha"e to ask you to trust #e!, he said in a carrying "oice. ,There is no ti#e to
explain. Aisaster is co#ing. 3e #ust lea"e now. Trust #e< .o< .o now< )f nothing
Nick Creech Three-P ?5
happens you get a bit of extra fishing ti#e! that>s all! but belie"e #e. Aisaster is
co#ing and if we don>t lea"e now we>ll all die. .o< .o now< 2lee<,
Three-P dropped his flippers down by his side had waited expectantly! but nothing
happened. The huge crowd of penguins &ust stood and stared at hi#! transfixed.
Cassie! who was stationed on Three-P>s left! ga(ing at hi# with a strange #ixture of
pride and fear for his safety! started and suddenly focused on the sea far out beyond
hi# to the east. * thin! dark line had appeared on the hori(on and was #o"ing rapidly
towards the#.
,/ook<, she shrieked! pointing. ,)t>s co#ing< )t>s co#ing<, The crowd obediently
swung to ga(e out to sea.
,Cun<, Three-P bellowed. ,Cun< Cun for your li"es<,
* few penguins closest to the approaching tsuna#i turned and began to push against
the crowd behind the# and see#ingly in an instant the whole great throng of the#
were sta#peding towards the opposite shore.
,My bow ties<, $beron exclai#ed and instead of fleeing to the shoreline began to
race towards the palace burrow.
,My pearls<, Titania exclai#ed and ran to follow.
,My father<, Three-P said. *nd he too began to run.
,3ait for #e!, Cassie called! hopping frantically after hi#. Three-P stopped. +he
would be too slow! he realised! far too slow. They would ne"er #ake it.
,+tay here!, he ordered. ,)>ll be back.,
,%ere4, Cassie -uestioned! a#a(ed. But Three-P had already gone. +urely not here!
Cassie thought. %e can>t #ean here. +he hesitated! unsure of what to do. The wa"e was
racing towards her! already it see#ed a #uch closer. )n another #inute! two at the
#ost! she would ha"e no chance of escape. But Three-P had said to wait. +o she did.
The prison burrow was located in the worse part of the island fro# a penguin point
of "iew! at the botto# of a little hollow which #eant that it was always "ery da#p and
#ouldy and in hea"y rain stor#s #ight e"en flood. 3hen Three-P arri"ed he was
expecting to find at least one guard who would ha"e to be dealt with! but the place was
deserted. 3hoe"er had been on watch had fled with the rest. Presu#ably the guard
Nick Creech Three-P ?9
would also ha"e freed Mr Puddle it would ha"e been si#ply unconscionable to lea"e
hi# to drown like a rat in a trap but Three-P realised he would ha"e to check. %e
thrust his way down the co#plex of twisting tunnels! honking desperately. %e was
about to gi"e up when he heard a faint! #uffled answering call. )t was his father.
Three-P raced on and suddenly ca#e to a screeching halt. %e was facing a dead end.
%e honked again and again his father replied. )t was co#ing fro# beyond the earth
in front of hi#. They had walled his father in. The "illains had all but buried Mr
Puddle ali"e.
,Aig! Aad<, Three-P shouted. ,There>s not #uch ti#e. Aig<, *nd Three-P began to
scrabble desperately at the wall in front of hi#! hoping his father would be doing the
sa#e on the other side.
*s it turned out! the blockage was not "ery substantial the guards! as usual when
out fro# under $beron>s direct super"ision! had been la(y and it took less than a
#inute for Mr Puddle>s beak to poke through.
,3hy! Three-P<, he said in a#a(e#ent., 3hat in earth are you doing here4,
,No ti#e! Aad!, Three-P interrupted. ,There>s a giant wa"e co#ing. Cun< Cun...,
*nd suiting his actions to his words! Three-P turned and raced for the surface. %e had
done what he could for his father and now he had to think of Cassie.
Mr Puddle lingered a #o#ent! trying to absorb Three-P>s #eaning! then the urgency
of his son>s words penetrated and he! too! began to run. They burst into the sunlight
one after another and Three-P set off as hard as he could to the cliff where Cassie was
waiting.
,Cun! dad! run<, he shouted o"er his shoulder. 3here was the tsuna#i! he
wondered4 )t #ust be "ery close now! surely. 3ould there be ti#e4 There had to be
ti#e...
Cassie was waiting where he had left her! alternately staring down the path and
anxiously out to sea.
,%urry<, she screa#ed when at last she saw Three-P racing towards her. ,$h
hurry...,
,$"er the cliff!, Three-P shouted. ,)nto the water. ,%e was praying desperately that
%u#phrey was still there! and that he had waited despite the terrible force bearing
down upon the#.
Nick Creech Three-P ?;
Mr Puddle puffing in the rear watched with astonish#ent as the youngsters
disappeared o"er the edge of the cliff! hesitated and then he! too! launched hi#self! all
the ti#e wondering what exactly was happening.
%u#phrey had been eyeing the approaching tsuna#i with #ounting fear. Co##on
sense said that he should flee for his life while there was still ti#e! if there was ti#e!
but he couldn>t bring hi#self to desert Three-P and Cassie! Three-P who had twice
sa"ed his life and Cassie who was his belo"ed. *nd then! e"en if he had wanted to! it
was too late. The wa"e had hit the outlying reefs of the island and was building to
#onstrous si(e! roaring like a host of de#ented fiends fro# hell as it is thundered
towards hi#.
They were lost! %u#phrey thought! Three-P and Cassie were lost. They would die.
*nd then suddenly! there were two s#all splashes right beside hi#! followed a
#o#ent later by a third. %u#phrey opened his ca"ernous #outh.
,)nside!, he said. ,Guick., *nd as once before! Three-P and Cassie sought refuge
within the whale! with Mr Puddle bringing up the rear. Poor Mr Puddle. *s one
a#a(ing happening followed hard on the last! he was now -uite beyond surprise or
indeed! thought.
3hen he felt the little birds safe inside! %u#phrey carefully closed his #outh and
turned to swi# directly at the wa"e! now close upon the#! hoping that so#ehow he
#ight be able to thrust his way through to the other side. But e"en he had no chance.
3ith a howl fro# the wind generated by its passage! the wa"e sucked out all the water
before it! lea"ing %u#phrey #o#entarily high and dry! reared to its final great height!
taller than #any buildings! and with a final! thundering roar crashed down upon hi#.
F"en for so#eone as #assi"e as %u#phrey! the force thrusting down on hi#
see#ed i#possible to withstand. )t gripped hi# like so#e #onstrous anaconda! roiling!
coiling! deter#ined to s-uee(e hi# flat! crush hi# utterly and then obliterate hi#. )t
went on and on. The pressure was i##ense! intolerable! unbearable! but so#ehow
bear it %u#phrey did. *nd then! as though thwarted! the wa"e picked hi# up! all 5D
tonnes of hi# and hurled hi# forward.
*s Three-P had feared! the #assi"e! cresting co#ber co#pletely swallowed
Mickleburrow! engulfing the whole island in a pounding torrent that see#ed to last an
eternity. $beron! e#erging fro# the palace burrow clutching an ar#ful of bowties and
Nick Creech Three-P ?=
his best cu##erbund! had no chance. %is portly figure was s#ashed flat and the life
crushed out of hi#. Titania! caught still inside! &ust drowned. The water roared through
the tunnels like a fire hose! swept her down to the deepest point and then held her
pinned. +uch was the force that she couldn>t e"en struggle.
*ll the rest of the penguins who had chosen to heed Three-P>s warning reached
deep water safely and in ti#e to be able to turn and watch. 3hat they saw would stay
with the# for the rest of their li"es. $ne second the island was there as it had always
been! the next it had "anished into a seething white cauldron! a witch>s cauldron ! huge!
e"il! uni#aginable. *nd as the great wa"e thundered down! they gli#psed a dark!
tu#bling shape! a shape which should ha"e been #assi"e but which was so dwarfed by
the horrendous wall of water that now it see#ed tiny. $f course! it was %u#phrey.
%e hung there for a #o#ent! suspended abo"e the island and then crashed down to
be lost fro# "iew. Three #ore crests followed the first! each s#aller! di#inishing! and
finally after what see#ed like hours the island began to re-e#erge as the water drained
away. )t had been swept clean. F"ery last shrub! e"ery last stunted bush! e"ery last
twig had gone. *ll that was left was %u#phrey! stranded! #arooned on the clifftop.
$ne or two of the boldest penguins began to swi# for the island! followed by #ore!
and #ore until the whole crowd was on the #o"e. The sea was curiously flat now! as
though the tsuna#i had ne"er happened. They poured ashore at the landing spots and
#arched towards the clifftop. .ully 8i#son! who had watched the whole! astonishing
spectacle fro# o"erhead flew down to &oin the#. %e had seen Three-P! Cassie and Mr
Puddle di"e off the cliff &ust before the wa"e had hit and feared the worst. %e couldn>t
begin to i#agine how they could possibly ha"e sur"i"ed. F"en %u#phrey! for all his
si(e and strength! appeared to be dead fro# the battering he had recei"ed. The wa"e
had dropped hi# on the edge of the cliff! so that his tail was hanging down towards the
water and his head was pointing inland.
The returning penguins gathered before %u#phrey in a silent! respectful se#icircle.
Nobody knew what to say. Nobody knew what to do. )t see#ed that the great whale
was indeed dead and of Three-P! who had brought the warning that had sa"ed all their
li"es in the nick of ti#e! there was no sign. $beron! too! had disappeared! and Titania.
Mickleburrow! their ho#e! had been totally destroyed and worse! they were leaderless.
Nick Creech Three-P ??
* whisper of con"ersation began to spread through the crowd as penguins began to
reco"er fro# the shock of all that had happened. +uddenly! .ully 8i#son stiffened. %e
ga(ed at %u#phrey a #o#ent longer. The whale appeared #isshapen! so#ehow. %is
body was drooping! sagging without the water to support hi#. Then .ully 8i#son
shrieked as only a gull can. 3ith a great struggle! the whale was opening his #outh.
The crowd gasped collecti"ely and held their breath in suspense. They were not
disappointed. +lowly! Three-P e#erged! blinking in the sudden! bright sunlight. %e
was followed by Cassie and then his father. They were battered and bruised and clearly
#uch the worse for wear but they were ali"e. The crowd roared with relief. They were
leaderless no longer.
Three-P turned to speak to %u#phrey and stood there! his beak open! taking in the
full horror of the situation. *lready %u#phrey>s skin looked dry in the sun and he was
clearly #ost distressed. %e could not sur"i"e for long. %ow to sa"e hi#4 Three-P
wondered frantically! for sa"e hi# they #ust! e"en though it looked totally i#possible.
%ow could tiny little penguins possibly shift a huge hu#pback whale who weighed
e"ery bit of 5D tonnes4
Three-P walked all the way around %u#phrey fro# one edge of the cliff to the
other and then back again. There had to be a way. There &ust had to be. +lowly it ca#e
to Three-P that the clifftop was now "ery different to when he had stepped ashore what
now see#ed like hours ago. Then it had been co"ered in tussocky grass. Now! there
was &ust wet! sandy soil. *ll the "egetation had been torn up by the roots and swept out
to sea. Three-P began to get the inkling of an idea. %e went back to the edge of the
cliff and peered down. %e could see fro# the striations in the sheer face that the soil
o"erlaid on the foundation of rock was -uite deep. But would it be deep enough4
Three-P stood considering and decided it #ight be possible. )t &ust #ight be possible.
Cassie and his father were looking at hi# anxiously but he ignored the# and turned
to the crowd. %e spoke -uietly but so#ehow the force of his words took the# to e"ery
last penguin there.
,My friend %u#phrey! #y co#rade! has sa"ed you all fro# the tsuna#i. *nd he
protected Cassie and #y father and #e when the wa"e hit at great risk to hi#self. 3e
all owe hi# our li"es. 3ithout %u#phrey we would all be dead. Now it>s our turn to
sa"e hi#. )t looks i#possible but ) think ) can see a way if you>ll helpJ,
Three-P ga(ed fro# one to another in the crowd but there was no reaction. They
stood wooden and unresponding. Three-P stared at the# a #o#ent longer then
Nick Creech Three-P ?@
shrugged. %e went to the edge of the cliff where %u#phrey>s tail hung down towards
the water not far below! and he began to dig. *fter a #o#ent! Cassie ca#e to &oin hi#
and then his father. They worked frantically! digging the soil out fro# under
%u#phrey>s body and as the other penguins understood what they were trying to do!
one by one they ca#e to help! until they were ranged along %u#phrey on both sides!
scrabbling away.
Now that he had the# started! Three-P stopped digging and went to speak to
%u#phrey.
,%ere>s the plan!, he said. ,)f you stay "ery still! as still as you can or so#eone will
get hurt! we>ll dig away as #uch soil as possible sloping back to the edge. Then if you
s-uir# and wriggle ) hope you>ll be able to force away what>s left and slide back into
the water. )># sorry ) don>t ha"e a better idea but this is a chance at least. 8ust stay
stillJ,
2airy penguins are doughty diggers and with hundreds of the# working all at once
coordinated by Three-P on one side and his father on the other they soon had two deep
trenches running down %u#phrey>s flanks. Then they began to undercut beneath
%u#phrey>s body digging away absolutely as #uch of the soil as they dared and
exca"ating right round underneath his tail until he was teetering on his balance point.
*t last! Three-P decided that if they tried to take out any #ore they risked %u#phrey
crashing down and killing who knew how #any of the#.
,$ut!, he called. ,F"erybody out. +tand clear. +tand well clear., Then he went
round the front to stand close by %u#phrey>s head.
,*ll right!, he said. ,)t>s now or ne"er. )t>s up to you now! old friend. 0ou can do it. )
know you can do it. $n three. $neJ TwoJ ThreeJ,
*nd at Three-P>s co##and! %u#phrey began to lash his tail fro# side to side.
Three-P and as #any of the other penguins who could find roo# hea"ed and pushed at
his head.
,%arder!, Three-P gasped and e"eryone increased their efforts! #ost of all
%u#phrey. The re#aining earth beneath hi# began to cru#ble away and all of a
sudden he started to #o"e! slowly at first then faster and faster! sliding backwards until
he hit the water with a loud slap and sending up a #ighty fountain of water that
drenched the# all as they rushed to the edge of the cliff to watch.
Nick Creech Three-P ?B
%u#phrey was floating there peacefully beneath the# and already beginning to
look like his old self. Three-P hea"ed a great sigh of relief and fro# sheer lightness of
heart di"ed off the edge hi#self! to float there with his friend.
Nick Creech Three-P @D
Fpilogue
)t would be nice to be able to tell you that Three-P and Cassie li"ed happily e"er
after! but it wouldn>t be -uite true.
Three-P ha"ing tasted the freedo# and the delights of the deep ocean was all for
returning to his buccaneering life with the Musketeers. %e helped his parents clean out
and repair their burrow and then went with Cassie to help her parents. *nd when
e"erything was shipshape again he announced he would be lea"ing to re&oin the
dolphins in the #orning! auto#atically assu#ing that Cassie would be going with hi#.
But her beak fell. +he had been drea#ing of a co#fortable little burrow of her own!
and children! definitely children. +he had #anaged to con"ince herself that ha"ing
experienced the ro"ing life and had so #any ad"entures that Three-P would now be
happy to settle down. To find! suddenly! that he had no intention of staying put was
deeply dis#aying. +he couldn>t hide her disappoint#ent and sought co#fort fro# her
#other. 3ell after that! it wasn>t long before e"erybody knewJ
)n the #orning! Three-P dutifully kissed his own #other farewell slapped flippers
with his father and resolutely #arched out into the sunlight. %is plan was to collect
Cassie and lea"e i##ediately! if not sooner. 3ell! so #uch for that.
*s he e#erged fro# the burrow! he disco"ered it was surrounded by a great #ass of
penguins! see#ingly e"ery last inhabitant of Mickleburrow. %is way was co#pletely
blocked and struggle as he #ight he would the -uite unable to force a passage. %e
stopped and stared. Cassie was standing in the first row! looking frightened.
,)t>s not #y fault!, she said anxiously. ,) didn>t ask the# to co#eJ,
,ButJ, Three-P said in his #ost forbidding "oice.
,They won>t let you go!, Cassie said! her "oice faltering.
,No< No< No<, the crowd roared in unison. +uch was their "ehe#ence! that Three-P
found hi#self taking a defensi"e step backwards. %e looked to Cassie for an
explanation.
,$beron is dead!, Cassie said helplessly. ,*nd Titania. There is no one toJ,
,3hat4, Three-P de#anded.
,ToJ To be king!, Cassie #u#bled.
Nick Creech Three-P @1
,$h no!, Three-P said! taken aback. ,Not #e. No< No< No<,
,0es< 0es< 0es<, the crowd roared.
3ell! to cut short a long and "ery painful argu#ent! Three-P finally arri"ed at a
position where he would be leader of the flock! not 7ing! ne"er 7ing! on condition that
he be allowed to escape e"ery su##er to go with %u#phrey and the Musketeers! and
Cassie of course! to the Aolphins> Aance. *nd so it was agreed.
Next su##er! at the appointed ti#e! the dolphins and %u#phrey were waiting
beyond the reefs as Three-P and Cassie swa# towards the#.
,+o!, d>*rtagnan said #ockingly as they approached. ,Co#eth the hour! co#eth the
penguinJ,
Three-P sighed happily. %e was ho#e.
The end
Nick Creech Three-P @1

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful