pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

Another Misplaced Entry

This really belongs in the booklevel journal where I store the segments used to establish the reading level of the book. I've discovered that if the selected pages are mostly conversation, the reading level is incredibly low, but if the section is not, the level can jump years. Since I was not watching that at first, I can refer to the on-line passages when I think something is out of wack. It already lead to retyping more pages for one of the books.

Green Grass of Wyoming
by Mary O'Hara
Reading Level: 6.8

Sometimes the deer and horses grazed together, paying no attention to each other.

On winter days of true Wyoming gloriousness, when the sun, in a cloudless sky of deepest blue, blazed down through crystal air and poured its heat and energy into the horses like charges of electricity, Jewel was almost bereft of her senses with excitement and happiness. Nothing like this had ever been known by her before. She frolicked like a yearling. She bucked and frisked and tossed her head, stood on her hind legs and pawed at nothing.

The little group of yearlings a few miles away could easily be seen through the clear air. Jewel went flying off to make friends with them. Thunderhead, without even lifting his head kept an eye on all they did. Jewel returned. She always returned now. She had learned her lessons and got no more bites on her haunches. She no longer feared Thunderhead except for a seemly attention to his wishes. Once she found herself grazing close beside him. They moved slowly, almost keeping step, their sharp teeth jerking left, then right, another step, and with a full mouth, the stallion raised his head high tossing his eyes in a wide circle, a glance which took in every moving thin within a radius of many miles. All’s well -- and he lowered his head and again went step by step along with Jewel, their muzzles almost touching. He was not greedy. He willingly left her the good tuft of grass they were approaching. She came to feel a confidence in him. She knew that when he watched and stood guard, he stood guard for the whole herd.

Put Pete was her true friend. He never entered the herd but accompanied it wherever it went, remaining always at the respectful distance of a few hundred yards. Most of the time Jewel was with him. Thunderhead had now accepted this friendship. In wintertime, when the mares are with foal, there is not so much to fear from an intruder. Besides, Pete was a gelding and not young, either. It is the young stallions a herd leader fears.

So the formation of horses was like a constellation, Thunderhead the central sun with the mares his close satellites, Pete and Jewel moving on an outer circle, Ishmael all alone on another ring, the yearlings on the farthest ring of all.

Still farther, but out of sight of this band, were other groups of horses, many of them the inbred small “wild” horses which are to be found in all the mountain states. But the centrifugal force emanating from Thunderhead and binding his constellation together did not reach to these others and they ranged free of his control.

Jewel was acquiring greater strength and health than she had ever had before. Her lungs deepened and gained in power. She grew taller, longer-legged. The luxuriant growth of her mane and tail and her thick fur made her look, at first glance, like a wild horse of the plains, but at second glance, there was that superb head of an English thoroughbred, the fine sensitive ears, and four most perfect black legs. The only white mark upon her was the diamond and pendant upon her forehead.

The winter was long. The mares grew thin, their bellies were low, there was a sag in their backbones.

The storms continued with lengthening periods of good grazing weather between. Sometimes there was a day when the air was balmy.

As spring approached the snow melted quickly after storms.
Thunderhead changed his pasture constantly. He was approaching the foothills of the Snowy Range, country that was new to him. He investigated every rock, every hill, every little hollow, really surveying the land like an engineer, so that when he was leading his band, either for food or safety, he knew where to take them. If they had to be concealed, he knew draws in which they could be invisible to anything moving on the plains. He spotted each rise where he could stand and see the country for miles around. Wherever he went, his entire constellation went with him until one day when Jewel, looking for the yearlings, could not see them. They had drifted away to a further range. The bond between them and the mother-herd was cut. But Ishmael, now a magnificent two-year-old, still clung to his orbit, still stood at night with his head turned and his ears cocked toward Thunderhead’s band. Thunderhead eyed him with increasing disfavor. This could not be tolerated much longer. But Ishmael was fast on his feet, and Thunderhead knew it.

With the approach of spring, Thunderhead’s temper became short. Stallions would soon be roaming. Spring would put wanderlust into their feet. They would be looking for mares.

Sex was awakening in him and brought its characteristic restlessness, pugnaciousness, suspiciousness, flaring temper. It was as if through the sexless wintertime, he had enjoyed a period of peace, his care of his herd having a quality of father-love and protection. Now he watched ceaselessly for rivals, for the scent of a mare to be found and bred and appropriated, for someone to pick a fight with.
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