"He was born when I was six and was, from the outset,a disappointment. He seemed all head, with a tiny body which was red andshriveled like an old man's."
"Daddy had Mr. Heath, the carpenter, build a little mahogany coffin for him. But he didn't die, and when he was three months old, Mama and Daddy decided they mightas well name him. They named him William Armstrong, which is like tying a big tail on a small kite. Such a name sounds good only on a tombstone."
"When Doodle was five years old, I was embarrassed at having abrother of that age who couldn't walk, so I set out to teach him. We were down in Old Woman Swamp and it was spring and the sick- sweet smell of bay flowers hung everywhere like a mournful song. "I'm going to teach you to walk, Doodle,"
Doodle told them it was I who had taught him to walk, so everyone wanted to hug me, and I began to cry."What are you crying for?" asked Daddy, but I couldn't answer. They did not know that I did it for myself, that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices, and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother.
"At that moment the bird began to flutter, but the wings wereuncoordinated, and amid much flapping and a spray of flying feathers, ittumbled down, bumping through the limbs of the bleeding tree and landing atour feet with a thud. Its long, graceful neck jerked twice into an S, thenstraightened out, and the bird was still. A white veil came over the eyes and thelong white beak unhinged. Its legs were crossed and its clawlike feet weredelicately curved at rest. Even death did not mar its grace, for it lay on the earthlike a broken vase of red flowers, and we stood around it, awed by its exotic beauty. "
I began to weep, and the tear-blurred vision in red before me looked very familiar. "Doodle!" I screamed above the pounding storm and threw my body to the earth above his. For a long time, it seemed forever, I lay there crying, sheltering my fallen scarlet ibis from the heresy of rain.