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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
The Woman Sweetly Smiled


John was quietly observing the crowd when he noticed a very beautiful woman walking toward him. In her hand she held the reins to lead a horse that rivaled his own. She was red headed and had twisted her hair up into a knot with a switch of it hanging down her back. Her milk-white skin was shaded by a wide-brimmed-hat.  Soft gloves covered her hands. Joe felt she was out for a morning of riding pleasure rather than here on the dusty, front line where up to 75,000 people were getting ready to race for land.

        “Shore is strange at how peaceful ever thang is.”  The pleasant woman who was in the race was making conversation, too.

    “Yep. I imagine it will stay that way. My uncle Marshall W.C. Jones head up the Kansas and Oklahoma law enforcement. He and his deputies work at it.  There are the United States troops stationed here, too.  I’m sure ever’  one has their mind on one thing and that is getting to staking a claim. That makes his work easier.”

    “Do you mind if I line up here beside you?”  The woman sweetly smiled up at John.

    “I’d be pleasured, Mam.”  And this was no lie. He noted the easy way she stroked the reins of her horse, how she was continually working with him and the way her psychic was at one with the animal. Mentally and emotionally she and her animal were as prepared for the race as he was.

    ‘Over the years John told and retold the story of the race beside the red headed girl that day. He always held a sad, far away look in his eyes as if he were visualizing the event again each time he told it. The realness of the story registered on the minds of,  first his children, and then, years later, his grandchildren.’

    “Yes sir! That red headed woman was something else. She rode beside me as easily as if we’d been working our horses together  for all our lives. Sometimes, I glanced up and there she was, just a grinnin’ like  a ‘possum. She staked her claim close to where I staked mine on the 4-D creek. Her mother and father had to prove it up, though, ‘cause her beautiful horse died that night and she died the next day. What strong hearts they both had but they just burst right in two with the fierceness of the run.”

    ‘And that more than anything  else this  told the story for everyone. It was a story to tell about  the circumstances of the Oklahoma land run and it was little different from what each and every person was experiencing that day. It wasn’t just running  for land but it was striving for a place where their children could grow with hope for a better future. There was a one time only, sure fire  gambling chance for winning a dream and there it was, right there in front of them.’


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