Flower was a formidable woman who hated her own name. Few people actually knew it simply calling her Ma’am. She preferred that form of address since it acknowledged her gender without seeming to mock her. For although Flower was every ounce a woman, and there were a great many ounces, she was not to be confused with the milk skinned beauties of The Song. Indeed, a poem of her would have more to do with tree trunks and sinew than of doe’s and perfume.
Flower started off toward the market passing through Bethlehem’s gate. It was not a short trip. She would cover several miles there and back. Almost immediately the cart she pulled was filled with children. Flower bent forward and worked harder.
As they neared their destination Flower heard a commotion. Several hundred yards back on the road an ox was standing stiff legged, tail straight up, bawling. Two men were on either side of the it waiving sticks. This was not good.
Instantly the ox was off bearing down on Flower's cart. Flower looked around for a safe refuge but there was none so she quickly unburdened herself of her cart.
The children were all in a panic and began screaming. Flower calmly walked to the back of the cart and asked the children to be calm. She faced the ox, planted her feet solidly, leaned forward slightly and fixing a hard deliberate stare at him prayed: "Father, please give me the strength to protect these little ones." She had barely finished praying when the ox was upon her. She smote the creature a mighty blow with her fist right between its eyes and the animal fell senseless to the ground. The blow also knocked Flower down.
Both beast and woman lay motionless for nearly a minute as the children and a gathering crowd looked on in amazement. Then the victor stirred. Flower groaned, sat up and shook herself. The cart full of children and the crowd erupted with a single cheer of joy.
Flower struggled unsteadily to her feet. Two brothers ran up to her. One of them asked: "Ma'am, are you alright?"
She ignored the question. "Who owns this ox?" Flower asked.
The two answered in unison; "We do."
Flower coughed. A bystander produced a skin jar of water and gave it to her. She poured some into her hands and washed her face. Then she knelt by the ox and carefully examined it. The animal's eyes were open now and it was breathing regularly. Flower poured some water over the hooves. The ox flinched and snorted, then rolled onto its belly. Flower poured more water into her hand. The ox eagerly lapped it and snorted.
Flower stood up and handed the jar to its owner. "Thank you she said." Then she turned to the owners of the ox. "What did you do to that animal?" she demanded.
The two took turns explaining. "That old bag of bones isn't worth its feed. We were trying to get it to market to sell it but its just been taking its time. Nothing we do will get it to move. I went off ahead and hid behind a rock. When it came along I jumped out and yelled and whipped it. We thought that would get it moving." The two looked at each other and laughed. I guess it worked."
Flower was not amused. "Your animal is malnourished and footsore. It's obvious you haven't been taking care of him. Your stupidity could have resulted in someone being hurt or killed."
The two brothers exchanged looks. They were inclined to teach this woman a lesson. However, a burst of good sense persuaded them to break off the encounter. They cursed at her, turned, and started off after yelling, “You like the ox you keep it.”
"I don't know your name," Flower said to the ox. "I guess I better give you one." Flower thought for a moment, then smiled a mischievous smile. “Precious, I will call you Precious."
Precious looked up at Flower, blinked his big brown eyes, and snorted.
Flower laughed and said; "Well, I don't much like my name either. Here you go." Flower reached down and removed the collar from around Precious' neck and tossed it away.
Precious gave her a quizzical look and struggled to his feet. Flower walked back to the cart and resumed her position. Precious stood still for a moment watching the cart move off, then he limped after them.
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