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By Donna Flood
Chapter 13 - Mariah’s Girls

Linda stood directly in front of me. Her petite size and slender childlike body, were as determined as she could make herself appear. She had one hand on her hip and head turned to one side. Evidently, she had been into her mother’s make up and was wearing lipstick. It wasn’t carelessly applied as children sometimes do. Instead, she had carefully outlined her lips, just so, as if she had practiced many times before.

“You’ve been in your mother’s lipstick.” I told her.

“Please don’t tell, Mommy.” Immediately, the little girl was changed to someone who was contrite and pleading.

“You better go wipe that off or I won’t have to tell her. She’s isn’t blind, and I know she does not like you bothering her things. How do I know? Because I used to do the same thing.”

“Did you really?” This child was quick and curious.

“Oh yes, I did. Her clothes, make‑up, shoes, favorite foods and anything else I could find that was her own.” It could have been told that this happened not so long ago, at the time.

And so it was, for a brief shining moment in time I was given an enchanted belief that all would continue along just as always.

But that wasn’t to be.

Weldon was now a part of the United States Army. It didn’t matter if Dad and Uncle Dean objected, the thing was a done‑deal. Leon’s power over the decisions Dean kids made was just not there.

“Armies run on their bellies!” Leon was muttering. “Prairie hay and beef are what wins wars. Why doesn’t he use his rancher’s and farmer’s status. He can do a lot more by providing food for the masses of the army than going over there and giving up his one life.”

There was no reasoning with Weldon, though. He was confused and not dedicated to what was important as the generations of his family before him, had been. Appearances seemed to be of more concern to him than old values.

Maybe Weldon had allowed himself to be side‑tracked by the wish to gain approval of those outside his family, who didn’t have the advantages he had. There were those who entered into his circle of friends, and influenced him with their thinking. Meanwhile, the large parcels of grasslands would become fallow with no one to tend fences, build ponds, take care of leases or anything else the ranching man, who raised beef, must do.

Mariah and her little family would continue to try their best while Weldon was gone, but now, the ranch was more quickly becoming in need of attention.

“So go on, our slow talking, tall walking, Chief,” were the thoughts of the family, “but will you be able to pick up the flag of family values, when you return, or will they be too fallen in disrepair to ever correct?” From the oldest, Joe, to the youngest of the children, these feelings of loss was upon us.

Like little waves lapping up on the shore of a small body of water, so, too, were the events to take us farther and farther away from the dreams of Leon’s older family. There was no patriotic ambition as strong as the high regard they had for the worth and holding dear to what was truly the building of their country. The poverty and sorrow of Wales during its time of struggle, the plight of famine in Ireland and the religious persecution of family to cause them to leave Scotland, all were issues known, set into their belief system and it had held strong. That is, until this time of decision making with Weldon. Who knows what his feeling was. Did he believe he could have both worlds, that one of instant gratification in warfare and then return to his old world? Was he embarrassed not to go along with the crowd? Was he confused from seeing the battles on his own grounds with weapons always at hand?

Or, did he rebel against these original beliefs of peaceful, ranching, farming activities performed originally in friendly, persuasion? Was the blood of his Osage ancestors, who knew no fear in battle, too strong to ignore?

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