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American History
Osage Highlanders - Chapter 7


As Dawn was resting,  she all at once caught sight of a rider on a horse. He was just a dot on the hill across the road, looking to come from the town of Foraker. The town was two and one half miles away. However, as the crow flies  or on horseback it was much closer.

She was remembering her childhood.  Riders from town would take a short-cut through the pastures, rather than using the road around. The rider was in a hurry and he was closing the space between them rather rapidly. "Hell bent for leather"  her Dad would have said. He was a good rider with the appearance of one who had ridden since he was a child. The way he set the horse was easy, flowing with the movement of the animal,  to make rider and horse one. It was a thing learned naturally by these people who grew up in ranching communities.  Maybe her own great grandfather taught their fathers. The Jones's  were horsemen, jockeys, cutting horse trainers, training horses of pleasure riding for ladies, or anything else particular to the science of the equestrians.

This style of riding reminded her of the Kings of England who rode like this. They took and stayed with the leads of  the horse. There was such a grace about it and it was, no doubt, developed to accommodate battles when rider and horse must almost think as one. She had not seen the thing so much lately. Usually, these days, there was simply the play at rodeos and such  in small spaces. As the rider approached she at first thought he was coming toward her, but then  it was obvious he was going around the place. "Why would he? There were no fences about here to stop him. Maybe he just didn't want to travel through the thicket of trees on the place, " she thought to herself.

As he came closer she could hear the snorting and heavy breathing of the horse. Under the man  the animal was laboring from being pushed this heavily. She could hear the slap of the reins as he took them to one side and back again to the other side of the horse's neck urging him on at this “breakneck” pace. The saddle squeaked and complained in its own way at the rigorous push of the man's body against it. His face she could now easily see, at this close up place,  and he had a determined look on it  which showed no fatigue. He wasn't dressed in the sharp cowboy appearances of the men in the small town where they lived.  His clothes were more of a softer appearance, lacking a dressy starched look. He wore a dark leather jacket,  but it was not like the jackets worn by the men she knew. Their's was an expensive smooth look. This one was more like fabric to show the leather had been well worked by steady wear. It was obviously worn so that it was easily draping about his arms like the material of a heavy shirt. The man disappeared behind the old rock wall and she waited but she never saw his horse come out from behind it.

All at once she heard a gunshot in the front bedroom. It was a little popping sound, almost like a toy gun,  which told her it was a small caliber pistol.  She could hear something drop and then she heard someone running through the house. There was the moaning,  the moaning, the endless moaning like  the wind under the eves of the roof. Dawn was listening, listening.  The woman  did not get up from her chair.  She could only explain it as  the dreams of her childhood. The girl would be running through the house, trying to get away from something but only able to move in an extremely slow manner,  not ever able to cover the space of the floor from the living room to the dining area. Something in her mind told her the man who had been on the horse was in the middle bedroom in the closet. At that moment she decided to go look.  "Why? Why?  Why would he be in there?”

Still, she did not move. There was that shuffling, scuffling sound in the house to be heard at times, like two men scuffling, fighting over something. There was no sound of a voice though..   Nonetheless, there was  a struggle, and this sound caused people to speak of a haunting when they heard it. The noise came from the back bedroom. This was the only place an intruder could get out of the house without being observed. Maybe she should make some attempt to move, to get up, to see.

She felt someone shaking her shoulder, and when she looked up she realized it was Pete.  "Wake up dear. You have dozed and it's beginning to get late. I have everything loaded and ready to go."

Dawn was awake now, and rested.  She was alert enough to look up and see hoards of crows descending upon the old house. The birds were noisy in a coarse, overbearing way. Insulting in their presence, growing louder, then as suddenly as the heavy black things  appeared;  they were gone.

The chill of the highland's prairie night was upon the place. She felt alone and anxious to go now that everyone was gone.  To avoid the pitch dark night was suddenly her wish. . After all, the wind generator for lighting which her Dad had built so many years ago was long gone-- vandalized and destroyed like everything else here.

Only on the ride home would she speak to Pete of her dream while she rested there in front of the old house'. I know one thing now,  and I'm sure of it.  My aunt did not commit suicide.”

"How do you know?"   Pete was humoring her.

"I just know."   Once more Dawn drifted off to sleep.

A number of things had been accomplished. There was a beginning of healing for the people around the old house. Her heart was satisfied with answers to questions she had wanted to ask throughout her lifetime.

Last but not least of all, her sacrifices of time, unbelievable juggling of finances, resources, energy worked, because Pete's mind had been distracted and freed  from the grief of having to close out his parents home.

Even after her father's  death the beauty of his work, even in its decay, had come to offer them support and comfort-- as he would have if he were living.


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