VIII. METAMORPHOSIS OF THE PENGUINS
The archangel, having gone down into the Island of the Penguins, found the holy man asleep in the hollow of a rock surrounded by his new disciples. He laid his hand on his shoulder and, having waked him, said in a gentle voice:
“Mael, fear not!”
The holy man, dazzled by a vivid light, inebriated by a delicious odour, recognised the angel of the Lord, and prostrated himself with his forehead on the ground.
The angel continued:
“Mael, know thy error, believing that thou wert baptizing children of Adam thou hast baptized birds; and it is, through thee that penguins have entered into the Church of God.”
At these words the old man remained stupefied.
And the angel resumed:
“Arise, Mael, arm thyself with the mighty Name of the Lord, and say to these birds, ‘Be ye men!’”
And the holy Mael, having wept and prayed, armed himself with the mighty Name of the Lord and said to the birds:
“Be ye men!”
Immediately the penguins were transformed. Their foreheads enlarged and their heads grew round like the dome of St. Maria Rotunda in Rome. Their oval eyes opened more widely on the universe; a fleshy nose clothed the two clefts of their nostrils; their beaks were changed into mouths, and from their mouths went forth speech; their necks grew short and thick; their wings became arms and their claws legs; a restless soul dwelt within the breast of each of them.
However, there remained with them some traces of their first nature. They were inclined to look sideways; they balanced themselves on their short thighs; their bodies were covered with fine down.
And Mael gave thanks to the Lord, because he had incorporated these penguins into the family of Abraham.
But he grieved at the thought that he would soon leave the island to come back no more, and that perhaps when he was far away the faith of the penguins would perish for want of care like a young and tender plant.
And he formed the idea of transporting their island to the coasts of Armorica.
“I know not the designs of eternal Wisdom,” said he to himself. “But if God wills that this island be transported, who could prevent it?”
And the holy man made a very fine cord about forty feet long out of the flax of his stole. He fastened one end of the cord round a point of rock that jutted up through the sand of the shore and, holding the other end of the cord in his hand, he entered the stone trough.
The trough glided over the sea and towed Penguin Island behind it; after nine days’ sailing it approached the Breton coast, bringing the island with it.
BOOK II. THE ANCIENT TIMES
I. THE FIRST CLOTHES
One day St. Mael was sitting by the seashore on a warm stone that he found. He thought it had been warmed by the sun and he gave thanks to God for it, not knowing that the Devil had been resting on it. The apostle was waiting for the monks of Yvern who had been commissioned to bring a freight of skins and fabrics to clothe the inhabitants of the island of Alca.