Penguin Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about Penguin Island.

The holy Mael felt a profound sadness that the first clothes put upon a daughter of Alca should have betrayed the penguin modesty instead of helping it.  He persisted, none the less, in his design of giving clothes to the inhabitants of the miraculous island.  Assembling them on the shore, he distributed to them the garments that the monks of Yvern had brought.  The male penguins received short tunics and breeches, the female penguins long robes.  But these robes were far from creating the effect that the former one had produced.  They were not so beautiful, their shape was uncouth and without art, and no attention was paid to them since every woman bad one.  As they prepared the meals and worked in the fields they soon had nothing but slovenly bodices and soiled petticoats.

The male penguins loaded their unfortunate consorts with work until they looked like beasts of burden.  They knew nothing of the troubles of the heart and the disorders of passion.  Their habits were innocent.  Incest, though frequent, was a sign of rustic simplicity and if drunkenness led a youth to commit some such crime he thought nothing more about it the day afterwards.


The island did not preserve the rugged appearance that it had formerly, when, in the midst of floating icebergs it sheltered a population of birds within its rocky amphitheatre.  Its snow-clad peak had sunk down into a hill from the summit of which one could see the coasts of Armorica eternally covered with mist, and the ocean strewn with sullen reefs like monsters half raised out of its depths.

Its coasts were now very extensive and clearly defined and its shape reminded one of a mulberry leaf.  It was suddenly covered with coarse grass, pleasing to the flocks, and with willows, ancient figtrees, and mighty oaks.  This fact is attested by the Venerable Bede and several other authors worthy of credence.

To the north the shore formed a deep bay that in after years became one of the most famous ports in the universe.  To the east, along a rocky coast beaten by a foaming sea, there stretched a deserted and fragrant heath.  It was the Beach of Shadows, and the inhabitants of the island never ventured on it for fear of the serpents that lodged in the hollows of the rocks and lest they might encounter the souls of the dead who resembled livid flames.  To the south, orchards and woods bounded the languid Bay of Divers.  On this fortunate shore old Mael built a wooden church and a monastery.  To the west, two streams, the Clange and the Surelle, watered the fertile valleys of Dalles and Dombes.

Now one autumn morning, as the blessed Mael was walking in the valley of Clange in company with a monk of Yvern called Bulloch, he saw bands of fierce-looking men loaded with stones passing along the roads.  At the same time he heard in all directions cries and complaints mounting up from the valley towards the tranquil sky.

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Penguin Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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