The entertainers

Skipping like stones over the sea, the penguins left. Nobody saw them again.

There were photographs, drawings, videos, of course. Children were as familiar as ever with the penguins; more so, if anything, on account of the mystery. Where had they gone? And why? The dodo had been a tragedy, but this was simply unfair: generations robbed of penguins, a waddling gap in the pantheon of zoological curiosities.

Pools stood empty in wildlife parks. A famous biscuitmaker changed its brand to Puffin; the original bars changed hands on eBay for thousands of dollars a pack.

The penguins watched, and sniggered.