It was Saturday afternoon and mischievous Eli tore into his friend Andy’s lane at breakneck speed. When he was even with the yard gate, he yelled, “Whoa!” and pulled hard on the driving lines. By the time the horse skidded to a stop, Eli had already jumped off the buggy and was breezing through the gate.
About the time he entered the front door, his friends Andy and Roy came around the side of the house. When the two teenage boys saw Eli’s horse standing in the lane with Eli nowhere in sight, they realized that their friend had once again done the unconventional and left his horse unattended. An unwritten law among the Amish is that you always tie your horse. Nothing could put a slow horse into high gear faster than the opportunity to hit the road without a driver. It was simply the human in the horse.
Andy and Roy looked at each other, looked at the house, and looked at the buggy. Without hesitation Andy jumped into the buggy, grabbed the driving reins, and climbed behind the seat. Roy gave Andy some time to get away with the horse and buggy and then let out a desperate shriek, “Whoa, whoa! Eli, your horse is running away! Whoa! Eli!” Roy half-heartedly ran after the “runaway” horse while yelling at the top of his lungs.
Eli, taking advantage of Amish hospitality, was just opening the refrigerator door when he thought he heard someone calling his name and yelling something about a runaway horse. Oh, well, they could catch their own horse. He was hungry. Surely his friends had something to eat . . . He froze. A horse running away? His horse? Hunger pains left him faster than a piece of chocolate cake in a crowd of starving boys.
About the time Andy had steered the horse through the open gate and into a harvested hay field behind the barn, Eli came flying out of the house like a ball from Mickey Mantle’s bat. Without losing momentum in the race, he yelled at his horse to stop. He tore down the field toward the careening buggy, easily catching up with Roy who was still flailing the air and yelling.
“Faster, Roy!” said Eli as he puffed past Roy. “We’re not going to catch him at your pace.”
Roy picked up speed as Eli passed and then keeping his eyes on Eli, he slowed to a dull run. He hoped his loud screams of “Whoa!” would make up for his slow pace.
Crouched behind the buggy seat, Andy pulled on the reins to slow Eli’s horse just enough for Eli to catch up. When he heard Eli puffing directly behind the buggy, he eased up on the reins, allowing the horse to pick up speed and leave Eli behind. When Andy got to the end of the field, he pulled on the driving reins and made a wide turn back up the field.
“Head him off, Roy! Head him off!” Eli shouted as he picked up speed once again. “Can’t you run faster?” Roy ran clumsily toward the fence to “head off” the horse, but by now he was laughing so hard that he stopped to bend over, feigning stomach pain from all the running.
From somewhere deep inside of him, Eli found the will to drum up more speed. When he could almost touch the buggy, the concealed Andy eased up on the reins once again and the horse sped off. From one end of the field to the other they went.
Finally, the exhausted Eli dropped to the ground in frustration and watched as the horse stopped at the far end of the field.
Roy dropped beside him, holding his side as he laughed.
“What are you laughing at?” Eli sputtered.
“That must be the smartest horse I ever saw in my life,” Roy gasped. “Did you notice how he sped up every time you got close?”
Eli looked around, disgruntled. “Where in the world is Andy? Why didn’t he come to help?”
“Andy? Who’s Andy?” Roy asked innocently.
Suddenly a light came on in Eli’s brain. “Andy!” he screamed, jumping up. “I am going to get even with you!”
The distant horse and buggy slowly turned and came toward them.
Holding onto his hat, Eli ran for his horse. Andy, roaring with laughter, waved at Eli from the front seat of the buggy as he headed toward the hitching rail. He kept just far enough ahead of Eli that he could quickly tie the horse and run into the house for refuge.