Looking out across the rolling fields of Lancaster, Martin took in a deep breath of a pleasant scent of freshly cut hay. He loved his father’s land that had been passed down through generations, but struggled with the strict teachings of the Old Order Amish life he was expected to lead. Just turning seventeen two weeks ago, Martin was still in his rumschpringe-running around years. During the rumschpringe the young Amish, age sixteen and up, were permitted to experience the English-non Amish world before they decided to be baptized into the their faith. Some chose the Amish lifestyle some didn’t. At the moment, Martin wasn’t committing to anything other then having fun at night with his new found English friends from town.
Walking into the barn with milking pail in tow, Martin noticed one of the yearling goats lying down on the straw. “Was iss letz?” he questioned in the language he used among his people. Bending down to examine the goat, Martin saw that the small animal somehow managed to get bailing twine wrapped around its two back legs. Untying the struggling yearling, he then held the animal to reassure it that all was well. Confused on how the goat could have tied itself up in that fashion, Martin went looking for his father.
Ben Esh was harnessing his team when his son approached him. “Daed, did you hear anyone around the farm last night?”
“Ne,” his father answered. “Why, what is wrong?” he asked as he turned around and looked into his son’s dark blue eyes.
“When I went into the barn, I found one of the yearlings lying on the straw with its back legs tied together. It looked intentionally tied Daed. I don’t think it got caught in the twine itself.”
Ben took a deep breath before turning his attention back to the harness. “Seems there was some kind of mischief going on last night…Norman Beiler’s son, Jake came by this morning and asked if I could help him and his Daed round up their cows. Somebody unlocked the fence last night and their cows are scattered around.”
“Who would do this?” Martin anxiously questioned.
“Probably some young Amish in their rumschpringe or young Englishers looking to have some fun...” His father calmly replied as he climbed into his buggy. “If we need you I will send Jake over to get you.”
“Ya.” Martin responded while watching his father drive away. As he headed back to the barn, his father’s words stopped him in his tracks. “Young Englishers” his father had suggested. Could it be? His English friends in town seemed awful interested in the Amish ways. Lately they were questioning him about their non-resistance stance. Martin could kick himself for having told them how the Amish would never get the police involved no matter what illegal thing happened. How could he be so derrich-foolish to sellout his people that way! What if they decided to do something life threatening?
That evening, once everyone was sleeping, Martin snuck out of the house and walked to town. During the three mile jaunt, he had plenty of time to rehearse over in his mind, what he wanted to say to his so called friends. On arrival, he saw them gathered in a huddle, smoking. Entering into their circle, one of the girls announced, “Look who’s here…Martin!” Snickers followed the announcement.
“Untie any goats lately Martin?” Another teen asked sarcastically. Laughter filled the circle.
“I didn’t think it was funny how you mistreated a young animal…or unlocked a gate and scared off all the cows at my neighbor’s farm. Luckily, none of them ran into the street and no one got hurt.” Martin paused as he looked at some that were chuckling. “The police wouldn’t think it was funny either.” He boldly continued, while staring into their defiant faces.
“Police, you said the Amish don’t call the police.” One of the teens holding a cigarette called out.
“No, the Amish won’t call the police. But their good neighbors will.” Martin sneered. “Even I can call the police.” He coarsely included. “I am not baptized yet, so I’m not held by the rules and regulations.”
Looking into the shocked faces of the teens, Martin was satisfied that his message came through loud and clear. He then turned and headed back home leaving the teens with something to gnaw on. From that point on, no more trouble occurred and Martin was very careful of whom he hung around with.
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