Penguin: Great Leader
The children had been building the snowman for some time. They were so cold, they would have happily given up on the job after the first ten minutes, but no, somehow it was not possible to tell Penguin this, though it was obvious enough to the creature, who stood by them, tall and elegant with his yellow ear patches and glistening white breast feathers.
‘Cold you say?’ laughed Penguin. He found the fact hilarious. ‘Now the Antarctic, that’s cold, almost 50 degrees below freezing at times, with winds blowing faster than a racing car.’
He laughed again, a weird kind of trumpet noise. ‘In the Antarctic, we slide around on the ice on our tummies for fun.’
Martha and Tom’s red noses peeked out of endless scarves and heavy jackets with hoods. ‘Glad we’re not penguins then,’ said Tom dryly. This made Penguin laugh even louder and longer, but then he stopped quickly. ‘Let’s get on and build,’ he said, clapping two bony wings round the children’s shoulders.
In fact, the snowman was impressive. It was as tall as Penguin and taller than either of the children, with a large head, arms and legs sculpted out of the snow and bits of coal and a carrot for the face. Now it was finished, the children were thrilled.
‘Goodness,’ said Tom, ‘I never thought a snowman could look that good.’ Martha nodded, remembering last year’s lumpy effort. Had they built the snowman or had Penguin? It was difficult to be sure. The big creature hadn’t been especially busy, but somehow, had made a difference.
“Did we build that snowman, or did you?” asked Tom.
“We did it together”, Penguin said, ‘We Emperors are great leaders, you see.’
A light dawned in Martha’s brain. ‘Emperor Penguins, just like Emperors who were…’
‘….powerful rulers.’ Penguin finished the sentence for the girl. ‘However, I prefer the words: Great Leader.’
‘Oh,’ said Tom, puzzled.
‘A good leader joins in, encourages where there is weakness, laughs to keep it fun, takes turns at the hardest of tasks without trying to boss others around. He or she keeps going until the job is done.’
Tom and Martha stared open-mouthed at this huge, beautiful creature who had led them tomake the best snowman ever. Martha ran forward and threw her arms round Penguin’s fat body.
‘Thank you, thank you,’ she said.
‘Time for hot chocolate,’ said Penguin and gently guided both the children back to the house.