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Evelyn was the daughter of Mr. Patel, groundskeeper at Champlain Park, a large historical estate. It was a popular attraction for people who appreciated Beaux Arts architecture and manicured botanical gardens. That afternoon Mr. Patel brought interesting news to his family who lived in a charming cottage on the grounds.
“One of the peacocks had her peachicks today and one is an albino!” “An albino peacock?” asked Mrs. Patel as she ladled soup into bowls. “Oh! Sounds exciting! I would love to see it!” prodded their daughter Evelyn, who was also a very interesting specimen. Her shock of bright red wiry hair and porcelain pale skin made her a target for ridicule at school—her flair for yodeling didn’t help her to blend in either. Mr. Patel searched Mrs. Patel’s face for approval as he commented to Evelyn, “I think you would be an excellent companion for the albino peachick.”
Many months passed during which the bond between Evelyn and the albino peachick, now a young male peacock, strengthened. They frequently strolled the grounds together, she practicing her yodel, the pheasant pecking at the ground, calling out alongside her.
The taunting from her classmates continued and for the first time, Evelyn started seeing herself through the eyes of others. She thought that a spray tan may temper the incandescence of her pale skin and that straightening her hair may stop others from tossing gum into it. Mrs. Patel noticed Evelyn now shied away from wearing bright colors and tied a long red ribbon in her hair before school. “It will accentuate your beautiful hair, my love,” she responded to Evelyn’s protest.
Before leaving the Champlain Park grounds, Evelyn removed the red ribbon from her hair and gently tied it around the neck of her albino peacock. It responded with a tilt of its head and a peck at the ground. Evelyn noticed that no matter what the peacock looked like or wore, it was strikingly beautiful and wondered why she couldn’t do the same. She smiled then continued her dreaded trek towards school.
After a particularly difficult day, Evelyn searched the grounds for her snowy friend. She learned to use her own strong voice to mimic the peacock’s call. She sang out loud and in the distance heard him respond. She found him at the embankment of a small pond surrounded by smiling visitors pointing at it with their cameras.
Her white friend looked outstanding against the rich green grass and dark-watered pond. He strutted proudly showing off his red ribbon and Evelyn was taken aback. The very ribbon that made her feel shame for the attention it brought her accentuated the distinctiveness of the peacock with noble respect. The peacock did not exercise embarrassment for its differences, rather it seemed to brandish them with pride and the people responded with admiration in equal measure. His head tilted towards Evelyn and with a flourish he fanned out his tail. The crowd gasped at his arresting beauty and Evelyn learned a great lesson.
The peacock embraced his unique characteristics without consideration for the judgments of others. His unassuming comfort with his differences was inspiringly persuasive; it lured others to see him as he saw himself and that, Evelyn realized, was the key.