Wind in Her Hair
Note: A young Arabian Princess named Cleo comes to America with her father and servants to learn of horses and horse riding. She finds a white mare of her choosing and names her Jazira after her mother who long since died of an aneurysm. She meets an American named Owen McQuade and falls in love. Her father, Aziz, disapproves and forbids her to see him or his stallion, Lucky. Will this love survive?
Chapter 1—The Princess's Adventure Begins
Cleo had been well versed in many Western things, but her new interest was going to take her into the new "Wild West". She was very excited, since she would be choosing her first riding horse and racing it with other qualified jockeys. She was already acquainted with how to groom and care for horses and she had ridden many times in the past. She had an excellent rapport with animals, but most especially horses. Besides, she loved them dearly and treated them like they were part of her family. Now, her life long dream was about to come true, thanks to her rich father's intentions. She, her servants, and her handmaidens would fly to California in their own plane and would by their own estate there. Cleo wished her mother could be around to experience this. She would've adored going to America with them. But Jazira was with them in memory and she was surely watching over them from heaven.
During the weekend, the servants and handmaidens helped Princess Cleo pack her bags and prepare for the trip to California. It was hot, even though it was winter in Arabia. In California, the weather was beginning to warm up because it was the beginning of the summer months in America. Cleo didn't mind. She quite enjoyed warm, sultry weather and couldn't wait to swim in the Pacific Ocean. The only water she had seen was the bathing kind or the drinking kind, never of the salty variety. Truly, it would be a unique experience to see the ocean and to become an American citizen. She bade her beloved Arabia goodbye as the plane took off. From her window seat she could see the sand dunes becoming smaller and smaller. Before too long, she would be in California. But her sleepiness soon took over and she was out like a light. Her father, who was sitting right next to her, stroked her curly raven hair and kissed her forehead as he watched her smiling peacefully in her slumber.
Chapter 2—An Arabian in America
When she awoke, Cleo was in her new room. She arose from her bed and walked toward the widow's peak. From there she could see the ocean, and the sun was already high in the scattered wisps of clouds in the powdery blue sky. Cleo yawned and stretched, preparing herself for the rest of the day. This would be her time to "get to know" the neighborhood and what America was like. She was extremely excited about going to the local mall and buying some new clothes. Like her mother who had died, Cleo loved wearing the latest fashions but was still modest. She would soon be set for her debut at the ranch tomorrow. Fortunately, the ranch wasn't too far from the Princess's new house. What she was really anticipating was choosing a horse from the ranch tomorrow. She was elated to be learning so much and going so many places. She was turning out to be quite the young woman and treated all people equally.
This is why her servants and handmaidens were her best friends and loved her so dearly.
The very next day, Cleo awoke refreshed and renewed, full of energy as usual. Aziz was amazed at how gorgeous she was becoming. It seemed like only yesterday she was going to school for the first time and making new friends. Most people saw her as an equal although she was ridiculously rich. Yet, she had a humble soul, and an honest candor that was so unique in human beings now at days. And this was what set her apart from others, what drew crowds of diversity and levity around her.
When the sheik and his young Princess were shown around the ranch grounds, they were introduced to the breeders and their stallions or mares. Out of all the horses that were on the ranch, there was one white mare that caught her attention. This stunning white mare had a long, pearly, white mane and blue eyes that were bluer than the sky itself. "I choose her.", Cleo said to the owner. "An excellent choice, Miss. My beauty loves to run, and she's one of the fastest horses of her breed.", the male owner said, grinning widely. "She's Arabian, just like me.", Cleo said, pleasantly, stroking the mare's muzzle. "Have you thought of a name for her yet, Miss ?", the owner inquired. "Yes. Her name from henceforth shall be Jazira.", Cleo said, wrapping her arms lovingly around the mare's velveteen neck. Jazira nuzzled her new mistress with affection and joy. The former owner could see the two had already developed a deep bond.
He was pleased that he had sold his companion to such a brilliant young lady. He had a feeling that she would become a stupendous racer someday.
Chapter 3—The Race Awaits
During the next few weeks, Cleo trained hard to condition Jazira for the races to come. When it came to riding, she was a natural, and racing seemed to fall into place easily for her too.
Her father, Aziz, could not have been more supportive or joyful for her and his new friend in the Arabian horse Jazira. It was only a few more months before Jazira and Cleo would be put to the ultimate test on the racing tracks. But, Cleo was ready for everything. The only thing she hadn't expected was her first love and the old-fashioned ideals of her father. Little did Cleo know that her perfect world was about to come to an end.
It was early the next morning when Aziz awoke his daughter. She put on her riding gear and her helmet and had Jazira dressed for the race to come. Inwardly, her heart was palpitating so rapidly that she thought it would leave her body. She prayed to God that her heart would be quieted and she could focus on winning the race. Even if she didn't win, she would be happy to accept second or third place since she knew there were other riders in this competition who had been racing much longer than she had. But, that was what made the sport all the more intriguing to her.
When she reached the tracks, she mounted Jazira and noticed all the riders around her. To her right was an American on a black stallion named Lucky. "That's a splendid mare you've got there, Miss.", he said, in a southern accent. "Thank you, Sir. My name is Cleo. Her's is Jazira. She's manna from heaven.", Cleo said, beaming a pearly smile to the cowboy. "She certainly is. My baby's Lucky. Lucky's gotten me through many races with the prize cup. Don't suppose you'd wanna challenge my winning streak ?", the man said, a devious look in his cobalt blue eyes. Cleo laughed heartily and said, confidently, "I would be honored to, Sir. If I win, I will have the pleasure of knowing your name. If I lose, well then, you will remain a mystery.", Cleo said, with a twinkle in her chestnut eyes. The cowboy drew an arrant lock of windblown red hair from his eyes. "It's a bet then, partner. I'll shake on it.", the stranger said, offering his hand to her. She shook his hand with gusto, but couldn't help noticing how dapper the young man was. He was the same age that she was, very intelligent, eloquent, and full of charm. The cowboy was an equal match. This would be a most interesting competition indeed.
Chapter 4—For the Love of an "Infidel"
When the bell rang, Cleo urged Jazira to gallop with all her might to the end of the finish line. She had run through harsher terrain before this, so the small track was really no challenge to her. Before Cleo could shout "Hallelujah" she was at the finish line being showered with gifts from her father and servants, and praise from reporters and newscasters. When the reports were finished, the cowboy stopped beside her and said, "You one the bet, Miss. You are a most formidable foe, and you and your astonishing mare.", the cowboy said, removing his helmet and allowing his short red hair to gently flutter in the wind. Cleo found herself blushing profusely at this man's magnetic eyes and his genteel smile. She shook his hand again. "But you were second, my friend. That is an accomplishment.", Cleo said. "Right you are, Cleo. My name is Owen McQuade. It has been a true pleasure to ride by your side.", McQuade said, politely.
Unexpectedly, he kissed her hand and took a flower from his prize wreath to place it in her hair.
"I hope I can see you once again…", he said, before his gaze was broken by an angered Aziz.
"Stay away from this man, this…infidel ! We must go Cleo. Now !", Aziz said, taking her brashly by the arm and dragging her and Jazira away from Owen. She could read Owen's lips about being on the ranch training for the race to come. Nodding her head, Cleo made a vow that she would see him again, whether her father wanted her to or not.
That night, Cleo escaped from her room and walked to the ranch by foot. There Owen and his stallion Lucky were waiting for her, patiently. "I hardly feel dressed for this occasion !", Cleo said, blushing a little bit. She was wearing light orange pajamas and furry bunny slippers.
Owen chuckled and answered, "It doesn't matter what you're wearing, Cleo. You look lovely in whatever outfit you have on." Cleo blushed even darker and smiled dreamily at him. "Father doesn't approve of my growing love for you, Owen. But that won't stop me from seeing you.", Cleo said pleasantly. He helped her hoist herself up on Lucky's back and the two took a romantic ride around the tracks under the sparkling starlight. They ended the night with a gentle hug and promised she would return again the coming night.
During the next few days, Aziz noticed that his daughter was more sleepy than usual and it didn't take him long to figure out what his daughter's actual agenda was. "You are very crafty, Cleo. But I have forbidden you to see that man. If you see him again, I may have…to disown you.", Aziz said, very painfully, clenching his fists. The servants and the handmaidens in the background gasped, whispering amongst each other. Some of them were even crying.
"You might have to disown me then, Father. I love Owen. He is not an infidel as you say.
He has spoken highly of God, and I feel true religion is anything that gives glory to the Almighty One. This man loves me for everything I am and do. Not one of the men you chose for me can even compare to him !", Cleo confessed. "Allow me to be the judge of that. Tomorrow, I will sit down with him and have a chat with him. Man to man.", Aziz said, his brows furrowing. Cleo had never seen her father like this. His insanely serious attitude was enough to make one's hair curl.
Cleo was ordered to stay home with the servants and handmaidens. She didn't wish to anger her father any further. She was being cautious and obedient as she had always been, but she was also praying for the man she had recently fallen in love with. She had a feeling that everything would be all right. For the time being, she would be in the company of her beloved servants and handmaidens. She waited for many hours on end before her father came home, and kept herself busy with household chores before he came home. By the time he arrived, he was his normal self and he had exceptional news for his daughter. "I was wrong, Cleo. I should know that you cannot judge merely by stereotypes alone. My view was jaded, but know I know that judgements must be left to the Almighty and His unlimited knowledge and graces.", Aziz said, a tender grin on his black bearded face. Cleo hugged her father, full of jubilation of the possibilities the future held.
Chapter 5—Love Never Dies
After many months of being together, Cleo was able to marry her sweetheart Owen. She continued winning races, and taking care of Jazira, but her servants and handmaidens helped her in that endeavor. She was starting to become independent and relying upon her income as well as Owen's income from his job. The two continued competing even though they had children of their own to raise and training to do for the competition to come. Cleo's father, Aziz, had watched his Princess grow and become a loving mother, provider and multi-millionaire. Just as she had always done in the past, she continued to give her money to charity and at last allowed the family servants and handmaidens to go free. They didn't want to leave the family they had been a part of for centuries. But Cleo insisted to them that they had to embrace their newfound freedom since they had been American citizens for so long. She also told them that they would always be a part of their family no matter where they went or what they did. Before they left, they expressed their gratitude one by one and said their farewells through cheerful tears.Epilogue
As the years progressed, the five McQuade children grew bigger, stronger and learned how to ride horses as well as raise them. The children's names Orchid, Azalea, Nisreen, Nicolas and Jared. They all worked well together, and watched over each other if circumstances proved harsh and unkind. The five were a grand team, working more like friends than siblings did. Their father, Aziz, spoiled them rotten, but also disciple also disciplined them in proper etiquette and manners. They grew in prosperity, but acted humbly as they had been taught. It was the proper thing to do and the right way to act.
Traditional ways mixed in perfectly with modern ways when Aziz's family joined the McQuade family for reunions as they usually did every year. Aziz did not find modern ways so crude and uncivilized any longer. He had learned that most Americans were rather trustworthy people and very amiable. He had also embraced spiritualism as his daughter had at a young age. The horses the family had raised were now producing foals and they would soon be named and conditioned. The cycle was never-ending. But it was never dull. The families, together, would always be meeting new people and sharing many stories of "God's miracles". These stories weren't only too good to be true, but they were inspirational and awe-inspiring. As long as there was the will to keep on running the race and giving it their utmost for the adoration of the competition, these families would always be in it for the rush they felt and the cool, calming changing winds of the seasons in their hair.
Elizabeth Berndt March 31, 2004