Chapter 18 Summary

The August heat is merciless. The harvest will be plentiful and everything is going well on the Baxters’ farm, though Jody is always conscious of Fodder-wing’s absence. Flag is continually growing and has become quite clever.

One afternoon near the end of August, Jody and Flag go to the sinkhole to get water. Among the dripping moss, he imagines he sees a helmeted rider, a Spaniard, something he and Fodder-wing talked about often. Jody realizes he will never be able to talk to his friend about such things again.

Jody forgets his errand and lies with Flag in the shade of a dogwood tree. Soon a mother raccoon and her two young ones come down the slope of the sinkhole. The mother fishes in each of the troughs and in the pool. She finally catches a frog and gives it to her children before going back to the pool. When the young ones follow her into the water, she lifts them one by one and drags them to land where she spanks them. It is such a human act that Jody barely stifles an exclamation.

After they go, Jody feels as if Fodder-wing has left with the raccoons, but something of the ethereal boy will always be found among the creatures of the wild. Jody now knows he can cope with his friend’s death. At dinner that night he tells his parents about the raccoons and tries to explain his feelings about Fodder-wing to his father who listens intently. Jody has trouble expressing himself, however, and is not sure his father understands.