As MacGyver guided
Thunder between the buildings and back into the barn,
he was aware of being watched. Robert Beiler’s funeral
had finished and everyone was getting back to work, but
he felt more of an outsider than ever. One of the younger
kids waved to him, but was hurried away by her mother.
Thunder and gave him some hay. He settled himself back
on his straw bale and set to work fine tuning his adjustments
to the plough.
When it grew too dark to see, he tidies away his tools
and, taking a deep breath, headed for the farmhouse.
Dinner was quiet,
none of the Millers keen to talk after the sadness of
the funeral. MacGyver excused himself as soon as was polite
and went up to his room. He lit the oil lamp and read
by the soft light until he heard the rest of the household
go to bed. He was brushing his teeth and preparing to
go to bed himself when he heard a quiet knock on his door.
Outside on the landing was Jacob, still dressed and shielding
the light of a candle with his hand.
I come in?” Jacob whispered.
you get in trouble?” MacGyver opened the door and
Jacob darted in, putting his candle down on a chest and
sitting down beside it.
I don’t get caught!” Jacob smiled, but his
eyes were sad.
back across the room and sat on the bed, propping his
crutch beside him.
very bad today?” MacGyver watched Jacob shrug, picking
at a thread on his trousers. Then the boy nodded.
are always sad, but this was worse because he didn’t
die because he was old or sick, he died because someone
killed him!” In the candlelight Jacob’s eyes
shone, but he blinked back the tears. “The sermon
was very long, all about how God doesn’t want us
to be violent like the rest of the world, and about how
our ways are better, more peaceful.” He pulled at
the thread again and it snapped. “And about how
we should forgive Roy for killing Robert. I’m not
sure I can do that, no matter how hard I pray…”
Jacob glanced up, looking ashamed.
I think I’d find that hard too.” MacGyver
sighed. “Give it time, Jacob.” He leaned forwards.
“Jacob – I know I’m not exactly the
elders’ favorite person at the moment, but I hope
you and your family aren’t in trouble along with
Jacob shrugged again. “We’re supposed to discourage
you from getting involved with stuff and be really careful
about following all the rules while you’re here.”
He grinned at MacGyver. “Most of the kids think
you’re great, by the way!”
know!” MacGyver grinned back. “Listen, Jacob
– I don’t want you to get in any more trouble,
but if Roy comes back I’d like you to tell me, OK?
I don’t want you guys to try and face him without
Jacob stuck out his hand and MacGyver shook it. Jacob
turned and picked up his candle. “I’d better
get to bed before anyone notices I’m missing. Goodnight,
Jacob.” MacGyver watched him go, and then lay back
on the bed, lifting up his aching leg ad propping it over
his other ankle. He smiled in the darkness. Maybe Nikki
was right. Maybe he could still help, as long as he was
careful about how he went about it…
* * *
see you there at eight.” Roy drained his coffee
cup and set it down, meeting the gaze of each of the men
opposite him in turn. One shifted, looking doubtful.
this’ll work?” The man shook his head. “What
if it all just washes away?”
gonna wash away!” Roy shook his head. “You
don’t know the first thing about wells, do you?”
He stared at the man, who shrugged. “It’ll
work, believe me.” Roy stood up, sliding out of
the booth and putting on his red coat. “Eight pm.
The three men
nodded, left some money on the table and departed, getting
into their separate trucks.
From behind the
corner booth’s high seat back, a head rose, scanned
the diner and disappeared back into the booth. There was
a whispered conversation, then three teenagers emerged,
donning their straw hats. Thanking the waitress, they
got back into their buggy and set off at a fast trot in
the direction of the village.
* * *
Elizabeth to peel potatoes and hang out washing, MacGyver
had gone back to the barn to tinker with the plough. He
felt much more hopeful today, that he might be able to
help his friends after all. He kept one eye on the hillsides,
visible through the open door, but saw no flash of a red
coat or battered pick-up truck up there.
with the plough and was brushing Thunder when a shadow
fell across the doorway.
A teenager MacGyver didn’t recognize slid in through
the door, casting a glance backwards as though hoping
he hadn’t been seen.
MacGyver stopped brushing and leaned against Thunder’s
warm side. The teenager beckoned and MacGyver ducked under
the railing, limping across to the other side of the barn.
“You’re going to get in trouble for being
here, aren’t you?”
important!” The teenager shook his head. “I’m
Samuel, I’m Jacob’s friend. He told us what
happened, and we know about the elders’ decision
that you shouldn’t get involved, but we think you
should know about this.”
as Samuel explained what he and his friends had overheard
in the diner.
know what they were planning to put into the well?”
MacGyver shook his head. “It could be pretty much
anything. A lot of modern agricultural chemicals are stuff
you wouldn’t want in your drinking water.”
say.” Samuel frowned, trying to remember. “They
said they were going to bring three sacks of it, though,
so it wasn’t a liquid.”
MacGyver rubbed his leg. “Well, I guess now we wait,
and keep a good watch on the well. Can you help me to
Samuel nodded and got up, dusting hay off himself. “I’d
better go. I have jobs to do.” He smiled at MacGyver
and walked to the door.
A thought struck MacGyver just as Samuel reached the door.
“How come you were in the diner anyway? I thought
Samuel shrugged. “Rumspringa.” He smiled as
though that explained everything and left the barn, whistling.
MacGyver mouthed, forehead creased in confusion. He shook
his head, making a mental note to ask Jacob about it when
he saw him. Giving Thunder a pat, he picked up his crutch
and limped back to the house.
* * *
John helped himself to mashed potatoes and shook his head.
“Absolutely not.” He put the spoon back in
the bowl and looked at MacGyver. “MacGyver, I believe
you have our best interests at heart, but I will hear
no more about plans to capture these men.” He held
up a hand as MacGyver opened his mouth. “We have
lived here peacefully for a very long time. We have defended
our land without resorting to violence before, as you
know, and, if necessary, we will do so again.” He
picked up his fork and speared a carrot. “We will
not be persuaded to change our ways out of fear for what
someone else may do to us.” He waited until MacGyver
nodded before putting the carrot into his mouth.
Jacob glanced sideways and gave a tiny shrug. MacGyver
nodded back, then concentrated on his dinner, his mind
turning over the problem of defending a people who refused
to defend themselves.
* * *
the afternoon helping in the Millers’ garden, weeding
vegetables and thinking.
better.” Elizabeth came outside to feed leftovers
to the chickens.
better.” MacGyver stood up and dumped the weeds
into a bucket. His ankle was hurting much less today and
he was sure he was on the mend. He looked across to John,
talking with another elder and leaning on a long hay fork.
“Elizabeth, I’m worried about what Roy’s
going to do. He didn’t strike me as the type to
give up easily, so I’m sure we haven’t seen
the last of him.” He dusted soil off his hands.
at least ask William to be ready in case they come this
Elizabeth looked away, scraping the last of the food out
of her bucket. “You heard what the elders said.”
MacGyver nodded. “But Elizabeth, if they poison
your well, you’re all in real trouble. If there’s
no clean water, you will have to leave unless you can
dig another one really, really fast. Assuming that whatever
they put in the well doesn’t poison all the ground
Elizabeth bit her lip, glancing at her father. “Promise
me you won’t do anything violent, MacGyver. Promise
to do my best to avoid it.” MacGyver tilted his
head, catching her eye. “But these men – violence
is what they know, maybe all they understand.” He
sighed as Elizabeth shook her head. “I’ll
do my best, OK?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.
“If they come, William and I will help you as much
as we can.” She picked up her bucket and hurried
* * *
No further mention
was made of Roy or the threat he posed that day. John
mentioned Robert Beiler in his prayers before the family
started their evening meal and MacGyver, not normally
a religious man, found himself echoing ‘amen’
at John’s humble request for God to watch over Robert’s
Jacob shooting glances through the window facing the well,
and resisted the temptation to do the same.
He helped Elizabeth
to clear away and wash up after the meal, then accused
himself and headed for the barn. As he crossed the yard,
he saw Jacob and two teenagers talking. Jacob turned to
him and shook his head, just once. MacGyver nodded in
acknowledgement and carried on, leaving the barn door
propped open behind him.
in the barn for an hour or so, fussing the horses and
doing small jobs with one eye on his watch, waiting for
eight o’clock to arrive, when a small girl padded
She took a step closer to him. “I think I saw the
bad man. Jacob said I should come tell you.” He
twisted her bonnet string around her finger and looked
up at him, too shy to say more.
did you see him, honey?” MacGyver dropped awkwardly
onto one knee to get closer to her height.
woods, out behind Katie’s Dad’s barn.”
She pointed in the general direction of the woods on the
other side of the village.
he look like?” MacGyver felt adrenaline fizz in
The little girl shrugged.
he wearing?” MacGyver reached for his crutch, ready
to stand up.
coat and a blue hat!” The little girl mimed a baseball
hat with a big peak on the front.
that sounds like him.” MacGyver levered himself
to his feet. “Was he on his own?”
The bonnet strings swished as the girl shook her head.
“He had one, two, three men with him.” She
counted on her fingers twice to be sure.
well done for spotting him.” MacGyver smiled down
at the girl and she beamed back up at him. “You
run along home now, honey. Go straight there and stay
inside, OK?” He watched the little girl nod and
scamper away, her bare feet quiet on the earth floor of
I guess this is it!” MacGyver gave the horse a pat
in passing, and limped out into the yard.
As he passed
between the buildings, MacGyver noticed the teenagers
again, behind the school. Then he spotted a trio of smaller
boys crouched in some bushes, and Jacob loitering behind
a tree. Jacob nodded to him and MacGyver nodded back.
He could see the Millers’ house from his position
in the shadow of a house, and Elizabeth and William visible
in the windows.
The village square
was empty, the well casting a long shadow across the hard-packed
earth. MacGyver found himself thinking back, to rescuing
Jacob and Christy from the old well, the tunnel they dug
collapsing and the moment of real fear when he’d
been sure he was about to be buried alive. Then, through
the rain of dirt and stones, he’d seen William bracing
his back against the roof of the tunnel and he’d
pushed the children out ahead of him into the light and
A movement caught
his eye and MacGyver’s attention snapped back to
the present. In the deep shadows at the edge of the square,
two men eased a sack to the ground and looked around.
MacGyver pressed himself against the wall, trying not
to be seen.
Two more men
emerged from the trees, each carrying a sack, and scuttled
across the road to join the first two. There was a brief,
whispered conversation that carried in the still air,
and then Roy stepped forwards with his sack.
MacGyver took a step out from the shadows, facing Roy
and his gang. “I won’t let you harm these
people any more. He limped forwards, putting himself between
Roy and the well. Behind him, he heard the barn door creak,
the rustle of straw and, out of the corner of his eye,
he saw Jacob lead Thunder out of the back of the barn,
leap onto his bare back and turn the mighty horse onto
the road. His hooves thumped dully on the grass verge
and MacGyver spoke to cover the sound.
not going to poison the well here. This land is not yours,
and you should leave these people alone.” MacGyver
felt a small hand slide into his and looked down to see
three small boys standing next to him. The teenagers joined
him, then Elizabeth and Irene Beiler, who nodded to him,
looking nervous. They stood in a line, holding hands,
and then Samuel pulled his end of the line around and
linked hands with Elizabeth, so that they were circling
have we here? A cripple and a handful of barefoot kids.”
Roy grinned and pushed back his greasy baseball cap to
scratch his head. “How are you going to stop me?”
Behind him, his cronies laughed.
you really poison children?” MacGyver looked Roy
in the eye, seeing greed and scorn there. Behind Roy’s
crony, in the distance, MacGyver spotted Thunder, galloping
along the side of the road towards town, with Jacob clinging
to his broad back.
no idea what this land is worth, do you?” Roy shook
his head. “We tried to move these people on last
year, offered to pay them well, but they wouldn’t
shift. Then we rented some land from them, but the damn
fool changed his mind on us and look how far it got him!”
“Right!” One of Roy’s cronies shook
his head in disgust, and another spat on the ground.
Irene Beiler tense beside him and glanced across, seeing
her white faced and angry.
Her voice was all the more chilling for being quiet. “Go
away from here and never come back, you murderer!”
Roy shook his head, laughing softly. “What can you
prove, exactly? Accidents happen all the time.”
He turned away from her and back to MacGyver.
“Accidents like the one that’s clearly happened
to you, yes? Accidents like THIS!”
He rocked back
and swung his fist, punching MacGyver in the mouth. MacGyver
pulled his hand free from the child next to him, and tried
to pull away from Elizabeth too, but she held on, pleading
silently with him not to be violent in return. Beside
her, Roy grinned and spread his hands. “Well? Nothing
is wrong.” MacGyver squeezed Elizabeth’s fingers
and took the child’s hand again. “These people
are peaceful, and I will not bring fighting into their
community as well as all the violence you’ve brought
them recently”. He licked blood from his lip. “This
ends. Now.” Behind Roy, William stepped quietly
into the square, with a group of Amish adults behind him.
They too linked hands, trapping Roy and his three cronies
inside a circle. One of them launched a punch at William,
but he turned his shoulder and the blow glanced off.
More people came
to join the circle, three and four deep in places, linking
hands. John Miller ducked under William’s arm and
took his place in the centre, right in front of Roy. MacGyver
looked around the ring, seeing the other elders there
along with the rest. The whole village had joined in,
trapping the men in the centre.
The whoop of
a police siren made them all jump, and MacGyver saw a
squad car turn into the yard. Policemen got out, and the
circle parted to let them through, closing up again afterwards.
One of them grabbed a sack and opened it, wrinkling his
face at the smell of the contents.
breathe too much of that if I were you!” MacGyver
saw the blue granules spill out and called over to the
police. “It’s pesticide – poisonous!”
The policeman shut the sack and backed away, calling for
back-up on his radio.
happening here?” The senior officer walked over
to MacGyver, looking him up and down.
people are crazy!” Roy turned to the policeman.
His hands rose. “I came here to see about buying
a quilt for my wife and they all ganged up on me!”
He shook his head. “Crazy, the lot of them. But
I’m glad you’re here now to make them see
sense, so I’ll just be leaving.” He took a
step towards the edge of the circle, and the villagers
closed ranks silently.
The policemen turned at Irene Beiler’s voice. “No.
This is not true. He killed my husband and came here to
poison our well with chemicals. He is an evil man.”
There was a murmur
of agreement from the crowd. Behind Roy, the policeman
who had opened the sack of pesticide got out his handcuffs
and stepped quietly to wards him. The senior officer rubbed
do you fit into this?” He turned back to MacGyver,
and then shook his head. “You know what? We’re
gonna sort this out at the station.” He nodded to
the other officer, who snapped the handcuffs onto Roy
and led him, protesting, to the squad car. He pointed
first to Irene, then to MacGyver. “You two as well,
A second squad
car crunched across the gravel in the yard. Roy’s
three cronies, subdued by a circle of stern-faced Amish,
were collected and handcuffed by the newly arrived officers
and led away.
The senior officer
turned to walk back to the squad car and was almost run
down by a giant, ginger horse, as Thunder came cantering
across the yard and skidded to a halt. Jacob slid from
his back, apologizing to the policeman in German as well
as English. Elizabeth grabbed Thunder’s reins, while
John grabbed Jacob.
in the first squad car with Irene riding in the front
seat, gave Jacob a thumbs up. The policemen got back into
their cars and MacGyver watched the Millers slide out
of sight as his car pulled away.
* * *
“I am so
pleased they believed you!” Elizabeth poured coffee
for herself and Irene, and tea for MacGyver. “It
sounded such a wild story when I thought it through again!”
did!” MacGyver blew on his tea to cool it and took
a sip. “Irene was brilliant, she was so calm!”
He smiled across at Irene, who smiled back shyly.
else has gone to bed, it’s very late.” Elizabeth
cupped her hands around her mug. “Irene, William
will take you home in the morning. The children are asleep
upstairs, so you can all go back together.” She
reached out a hand, squeezing Irene’s arm gently.
“It will be alright, we will all look after you.”
her thanks, finished her drink and headed upstairs to
back in his chair, stretching his leg out under the table.
were here most of the afternoon, you know.” Elizabeth
took a sip of her coffee, looking at MacGyver over the
rim of the mug.
they say?” MacGyver tensed, ready for another vote
of no-confidence from the village leaders.”
a good man and, even if you’re not one of us, you
respect our ways and you try to uphold them. They were
impressed that you didn’t resort to violence, and
that you turned the other cheek.” She smiled, indicating
his bruised face. “Literally, this time!”
MacGyver touched his split lip. “You’ll never
know how close I came to hitting that lowlife right back!”
didn’t, and that’s the important part.”
Elizabeth got up, rinsed her mug and dried it. “I’m
going to bed, MacGyver. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She crossed to the door, and then turned back. “Thank
MacGyver raised the mug in salute and watched Elizabeth
smile, then turn away. Only when he heard her feet on
the stairs did he allow weariness to show on his face.
He stayed in
the kitchen for another half hour, watching the fire die
down and thinking about how strong and dedicated the Amish
had to be, to stick to beliefs so much at odds with the
way the rest of the modern world worked. Men like Roy
were everywhere, and MacGyver was glad he’d been
able to help to stop this man from visiting more harm
on the community than he already had. He made a silent
toast to Robert Beiler with the last of the tea, rubbed
a hand across his tired eyes and limped off to bed.
* * * *
will you be visiting us again?” Jacob guided his
borrowed brown mare around a hole in the road and the
as I can,” MacGyver grabbed his crutch as it rolled
with the buggy’s motion, “But I have to see
to some things first.”
Or stopping men like Roy?” Jacob glanced at MacGyver,
and then returned his attention to the road.
both.” MacGyver frowned, wondering how much to explain
to Jacob. “I’ve stumbled across a group of
people at least as bad as Roy, as a result of doing my
work. They’re the reason this happened –"
He tapped his plastered leg, “- but even so, I still
have to stop them.”
MacGyver.” Jacob’s voice was worried. “I
would hate for anything bad to happen to you. Anything
else bad, I mean!”
be careful.” MacGyver laughed at Jacob’s incredulous
expression. “More careful than usual, OK?”
He leaned out of the buggy to wave, seeing Nikki sitting
on the hood of her car at the side of the road ahead.
look much better!” Nikki slid off the hood and stood
in front of the buggy, stroking the horse’s nose.
better.” MacGyver smiled as Nikki reached out a
hand to help him down from the high seat. “Thanks.”
He pulled his bag out from under the seat and limped across
to the car, throwing the bag into the trunk and then returning
to his friends.
here tells me that you’ve been keeping busy,”
Nikki’s eyes sparkled and she exchanged a wink with
Jacob, who grinned. “I’ll expect to hear all
about it on the way back!” She stroked the horse
again. “But I have to say – I was expecting
a horse called Thunder to be bigger than this!”
She frowned as MacGyver and Jacob both burst out laughing.
“What did I say?”
Thunder! This is Maisie, she belongs to Mrs. Beiler.”
Jacob shook his head, still laughing. “Thunder’s
got another job today – pulling MacGyver’s
new plough.” He shaded his eyes, gazing into the
distance, and then pointed. Nikki followed his finger,
squinting against the sun and seeing a massive, ginger
horse leaning into his harness and pulling a plough easily
across a field. The plough turned up rich, brown earth,
ploughing in the stubble of what had until recently been
a field of deadly corn. Behind him, the men following
got him. Nikki whistled. “Wow, he really is big,
is.” MacGyver turned to Jacob. “Jacob, thank
you for everything. I hope I’ll be back to visit
soon, but you keep everyone safe until I do, OK?”
Jacob reached down a hand and MacGyver shook it. “You
be careful too, Mac.”
MacGyver and Nikki got into the car, and Jacob watched
them leave, waving until they were out of sight.
He watched for
a moment longer, then sighed. He spoke quietly to Maisie,
turned the buggy around and headed for home.