Together again, Bint Shahwan and Company.
Our group, Mathew, and his allied band of Bedouin allies; Rashad on his war mare Basmah that carefully and lovingly ponied Bint Shahwan to her new home, had settled down close to the tents of the Ruala tribe to mend our wounds and regroup after such a harrowing experience. Bint had lost a considerable amount of weight and needed nourishment. A guide and servant of the Sheykh had come to supply food and dressings for our wounds. I was proud of Rashad. He risked his life to save Bint from those thieves. We didn’t want to worry the Sheykh. We sent ahead to deliver a message to Mike, Walter, and Doctor Marsufi. They rode ahead to elicit help after the nighttime raid that took Bint from us.
Dazshtan and I needed rest to heal the wounds suffered from the fight with Shabbar’s stallion. I had bumps and bruises from the flailing hooves as I hung on to my brave stallion. There are two sides to a horse’s nature. Yes, they are prey animals, but what surprised me was how Dazshtan protected us, the members of his herd. It is usually a mare that was the “alfa.” It proved to me that we were truly partners. He gave his all. He provided shelter with his body from the haboob and willingly took in and protected the enemy Shabbar. I have heard stories of riders who have fallen and injured themselves. Their horse didn’t run off but stayed to protect their mount. That is a pure partnership.
I’m thankful for the upbringing that Mike and my father have instilled in me. Our experience has proved to us the value of the philosophy that Mike espouses.
Our group stayed together, healthy, and strong but Dazshtan had a gash or hematoma on his shoulder from being kicked by Shabbar’s stallion. We were truly thankful. Dazshtan had shown his leadership during his travail even when injured. We truly have developed trust and respect for each other.
It was time that we left this place of rest under the shade of the date palms. It was cool with dew on the grass of the oasis. Our animals had feasted on dates and camels’ milk given to us by the servants of the Sheykh. Rejuvenated, we departed to reunite with our group of friends. Mike and Walter rode out to meet us halfway to join us in the final miles to our destination. They have done their best to keep the gift a secret. Sheykh Ammeri was growing old.
“Will the Sheykh live long enough to see the result?” My father asked after we voted on the plan to rebreed “Inny” back to Shahwan to produce a filly to replace her deceased grand dam, Ashreen Arnaza, before Rashad’s father was taken back to his creator. Well. He will see our mission accomplished.
As we neared the tents of the Ruala, women warbling their traditional songs, riders on horses and camels came out to greet our weary band. We were surrounded by revelry. The Sheykh was seated in the entrance of his tent with Doctor Marsufi seated by his side. As we approached the tent, a look of surprise was on his face.
Rashad dismounted his mare. Walter and Mike joined him. Rashad took the lead of Bint Shahwan and appeared from between the horses. Doctor Marsufi and Walter recounted the time when they sorrowfully left the presence of the Sheykh after their foundation mare, the dam of RA Inshallah had passed away. Mike took the lead from Rashad. They both approached the surprised but smiling Patriarch along with Walter.
“Do you remember these words my honored friend? She is my gift to you. Fear not to take her. She will fill your soul with splendor and consecrate our memories. Let her spirit stand amongst us forever.”
Mike looked into his eyes and noticed a tear starting to appear in his kind old eyes as he reached to caress the face of an old soul, Bint, which has come home to him.
“I will bathe her in my tears every morning. She will be the light of my life, the enriching one. This mare is a treasure in her own right. I remember my treasured mare Ashreen Arnaza, “Ashi” is how I called her to my side. Her filly, you named her “Inny for short? The day you took her home to be with you in Oregon, I cried with happiness. This gift, returning to be with us is a gift from Allah, may He be praised! Shukran, Michael. what is this precious gift’s name?”
Holding back his tears, my grandpa said “do you remember the mare that I rode when I first approached your tents? She has been with me for many years. I am devoted to her, Shahwanyssa”
“Ah! You and your treasure “Sissy.” She looked to you as her own.”
Walter then spoke up. “She is by her sire Shahwan and out of RA Inshalla.” “Bint Shahwan” is her name.”
The Sheykh glanced over at me as I stood slightly back to not be noticed. The kind old man beckoned me to come to his side.
“Who is this, Rashad?” He noticed that I was wearing my keffiyeh tightly around my head. That is when the doctor and my grandpa noticed who was on the lead by my side.
Sheykh Ameeri then looked into my eyes and glanced over at Rashad.
“Why does he hide? His stallion by his side is “Asil.”
He then unrolled my keffiyeh.
“I can explain it, Father.” Turning me around, he said with curiosity.
“Yes, my son, you can explain this.”
I couldn’t lay this upon Rashad. Without hesitation, I spoke up.
“I am Josie Peters.”
“Yes. The daughter of Mathew Peters, my stepson-in-law.” said Mike with a surprised look on his face.”
“Father. If it not for Josie, these fine full siblings; Bint Shahwan and Dazshtan would not have developed the way they have with such fine temperaments.”
“Son, I am an old man. I will ask Allah to forgive me as you must do also. You have endangered a woman, Rashad! Don’t tell anyone about this.”
As he looked around. “Tell her to keep her keffiyeh on while she is here.”
“Father. Through Mike’s mentorship, Josie has brought out the best in these two full siblings to bless the lives of Dr. Marsufi and our herds with the legacy of Shahwan. Josie came to warn us of possible danger as we traveled to present this gift to you.”
From among our group, Mathew presented himself to the Sheykh and removed his keffiyeh. With a cynical smile on his face, the Sheykh said
“Yes, please do young man.”
“I can attest to that, Sheykh (in Arabic). I met Josie and a gentleman named Amir on the road. I noticed her beautiful stallion. Josie said that Amir mentioned that Dr. Marsufi would understand why she had Dazshtan with her. Amir then left to return to Cairo.”
Dr. Marsufi walked over to my stallion and looked over at me firmly as he inspected Dazshtan. “She told us about a groom that came from your group that he was traveling with; his name is Hadji.”
Looking up from his inspection, the Dr. said,
“I wondered why he had left so abruptly without telling us. He took great care of Bint. She followed him willingly. They developed a fine relationship.” “Doctor. Your groom Hadji returned to Al Almann and was repentant. He was loosely involved with the thieves that planned to steal your charge, Bint. If it was not for this young woman and Amir, we would have lost your Bint to marauders who crept in and made off with her in the middle of the night.”
“What is this man’s role in this? Rashad.”
“It is okay Rashad. I had been on assignment to track down bad guys. I came up with an idea that with my experience, I could help her. Amir vetted me. I convinced my allies to help me find Bint in exchange for my help to find the bad guys.”
“What he says is true father. Up on the rise with the sun at their backs, I thought they were the marauders heading back to finish us off. I was ready to attack when she removed her kettifey just in time. She disguised herself as a young man. She didn’t want to ruffle feathers with our people. Mathew, Josie, and her stallion Dazshtan were looking to warn us, but the thieves had already struck. Now, it was truly a blessing from Allah. After two arduous days with the help of the tribe whose members are here today in your presence, we were able to track them following the trail they left. Some nomadic Bedu had encountered them also.
They were members of the Bdul tribe as Hadji described. The rains had erased the trail, but the wadi where the Bdul lived was close by. I have always been suspicious of the youth of this tribe. During my visits, as I traveled home to you, father, through the Wadi Rum, I encountered a young man that did not hold the same beliefs that we do. He was harsh and cruel to his horses. He did not follow the traditions of our ancestors. As we tracked these thieves using the information that Hadji gave us. The trail led us to confront the elders of the Bdul tribe. In unbelief that their youth was involved, they assured us that they would investigate and deal with the matter. Mathew followed and tracked a suspect after we met with the Elders. Using his allied scouts, they discovered a canyon east of this tribe’s compounds.
You have taught me, well Father, for I crept silently into this suspect’s hiding place up in that canyon and retrieved Bint from within one of their tents. If it were not for Josie’s stallion, we could have all been destroyed. We were discovered by Shabbar, the leader of the youth. He gave chase. Dazshtan turned back to defend us. Shabbar was severely injured in a skirmish between the two stallions. Shabbar’s stallion ran off into a sandstorm and fell to his death over a cliff. He didn’t stay to protect his fallen rider.”
“My son, we have traded before with this tribe. It troubles me! Were they aware of what their youth were doing? I will send an emissary to the Bdul to discover the details of what happened.”
A grateful temporarily bewildered leader dismissed us.
My Grandfather asked if Mathew would meet with him.
“Yes Sir. What can I do for you?” He replied.
“I have been watching you closely and you look remarkably familiar to me.”
“Sir, you also look familiar.”
“What is your name son?”
“I am a member of the special forces of the United States Navy. Captain Matthew Chapman is my name.”
“Wait a minute. where are you from son?”
“A little town in the central part of Oregon in the United States called Alfalfa”
“That can’t be. I’m from Central Oregon myself.”
“My mother and father raised Arabian horses. When I was eight years old my parents got a divorce and I went with my mother as we traveled around the country. I never saw my father very much after that. That was thirty years ago. I eventually joined the military and was able to qualify for an elite unit of the special forces of the Navy Seals Sir.”
“How old are you son? Forty-two years ago, my ex-wife and I had a son named Mathew. I am pretty sensitive. I knew you seemed familiar to me. Wow! What are you doing in a place like this, son? This really must have been destiny for us to meet like this.”
“You mean that you’re my father?” Mathew looked down and shook his head. “I hoped someday that I could find you.”
“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have noticed that beautiful Arabian stallion that was with Josie when I met her in the desert in Jordan. You gave me a keen eye when it came to the Arabian horses and the horse alike. I remember you drilled into me the need to be responsible for our horses. I failed to fill the troughs for our horses many times.”
“When I was twenty-one, I joined the military to get away from home. How I remembered that lesson you taught me about being responsible. I excelled in my training because of that and was soon recruited and rigorously tested on my way into the Navy Seals. Since I retired after 20 years, I now work for the (Company) and I’m here on a special assignment to track down some bad guys. Meeting Josie was just a diversion for me. I can’t believe the coincidence. Remember when I was young you told me that there were no coincidences and that we were all here together because we chose to be. Josie never told me that those two full siblings were by our stallion Shahwan. But Sir, these two are but five and four years. How can that be.”
“Can I call you Matt? Do you remember that summer when we froze the stallion’s semen? We sent fresh cooled semen around the country.”
“Oh, Mike, or dad? I was so sorry about Shahwanny dying while you were on the road driving. I loved that stallion. He and I had a special friendship. When I was but eight months old, you put me on his back. From the video I saw of that occasion, I was smiling and laughing, forty-one years ago.”
“Losing Shahwan, then my only son leaving with my ex was hard, Matthew”
“I would go to bed crying, dad when you were not there anymore. I know you tried to follow us all over the country. But here we are in the middle of nowhere. You’re going to have to explain the whole thing to me. And Josie is a wonderful horsewoman. She must make you proud.”