Jamie’s Horse

Thou shalt not steal (Ex. 20:15).

My sister, Sandy, and I were playing in the cornfield on Saturday morning, pulling up dried cornstalks and piling them up for a fort, when I saw something white sticking out of the weeds by the road. I ran to see what it was. “Sandy!” I yelled, running back toward her.

“What’s wrong, Jamie? Did you see a snake?”

“It’s a horse!” I panted excitedly. “It’s white with a gold and orange and blue saddle. There’s a gold tassel on its head.”

We quickly ran back to the spot where I had discovered the horse. “See!” I shouted.

“Wow! I wonder where it came from.”

“It must be from a carousel,” I said.

“But how did it get here?”

“I don’t know. Who cares? It’s ours—finders, keepers! Help me carry it.”

“Carry it where?”

“Let’s put it in the old stable,” I said. “Dad never goes in there anymore since he bought the tractor and sold old Jake. It’ll be our secret. Just wait until we get the dirt washed off!” I rattled on excitedly, hardly stopping to get my breath.

Sandy and I managed to drag the horse into the old stable.

“Jamie, I just want you to tell me one thing,” said Sandy. “How are we going to ride this horse? It won’t stand up.”

“If we had a pole like the one on a carousel, we could stick it in the ground,” I said thoughtfully.

“But that wouldn’t be any fun,” Sandy objected. “It wouldn’t move.”

I sat on a bale of hay with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hand, trying to figure out what to do. Then I gazed up at the roof. “Do you think that if we got some ropes, we could hang the horse from that rafter so that it would swing back and forth?”

“That’s a great idea!” Sandy squealed. “Let’s try it. I’ll look for some rope, and you get a ladder.”

Sandy held the stable door open while I pulled the ladder in. She had found one rope hanging on the wall of the stable, but it wasn’t long enough.

“Let’s take the tire swing rope off the oak tree,” she suggested. “I’d rather swing on a horse than an old tire any day.”

The tire swing came down quickly. With two pieces of rope, we were on our way.

I held on to the ladder to keep it from slipping while Sandy climbed to the rafter. She locked her legs around the rafter and inched her way along with the rope held between her teeth. Then she hung the first rope over the rafter. “OK, bring me the other one,” she said.

With the second rope in place, we carefully made our way back down. One rope we tied around the horse’s neck, the other under its tail.

“I get the first ride,” I claimed, climbing onto the horse.

Sandy gave me a push.

“Hi yo, Silver!” I yelled as I sailed back and forth.

The next morning, between spoonfuls of oatmeal, Sandy and I grinned across the table at each other while Mom insisted that we hurry and get dressed for church.

My Primary lesson was about the Ten Commandments. When we got to “Thou shalt not steal,” I asked the teacher, “Is finding something and keeping it the same as stealing?”

She answered, “It’s wrong to keep something that belongs to someone else unless you honestly can’t find the rightful owner.”

After dinner the next day, Dad turned on the television to watch the local news. A reporter told about a missing carousel horse that had apparently fallen off the back of a truck. “If anyone knows anything about this horse,” he announced, “please call the police or the television station as soon as possible. It is not only a favorite mount on the carousel but also a valuable piece of equipment.”

I left the room, wandered slowly out to the stable, and stood looking at our horse. It must be the same horse, I thought. Then, But maybe it isn’t.

The rest of the day, I kept thinking about the horse and the fun that we were having. But it wasn’t as much fun, and I didn’t feel right when I tried to say my prayers that night. I had trouble falling asleep too.

When we got off the school bus the next day, we raced to the stable. Sandy got to the horse first and started to swing.

“What are we going to do?” Sandy asked.

“I don’t know, but I liked it better when I thought it was really ours. I’m going to call the TV station,” I said.

A couple of hours later, a truck pulled up in front of the house. The driver got out and said, “I’m looking for Jamie Thomas.”

“That’s me,” I answered gloomily.

“I understand that you found a carousel horse.”

“Yes sir.” I led him down to the stable. The horse was still hanging there. Sandy stood in the shadows, frowning at me.

“I know how hard this is for you,” the man said as he untied the ropes.

“Swinging on that horse must have been real fun.” He handed me an envelope. “You come to the fair this weekend, and you can have all the free rides that you want.”

After he left with the horse, I held the envelope out to Sandy. “It’s full of tickets,” I said.

“You’re kidding!” She looked inside. “You’re not kidding!”

We both grinned from ear to ear. And I felt a whole lot better.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Jerry Harston