Sammy and company, now back on the buggy seat though careful not to show themselves, have already eased the whip out of the front of the buggy. With only an occasional glace in the mirror, they can keep track of Lonnie’s progress in catching up.
The brothers allow Lonnie to get within a tantalizing 10 feet of the rear of the buggy before gently tapping the rump of their horse with the whip. Trigger obligingly speeds up, and Lonnie, legs pumping determinedly, loses 50 strides.
Now the grinning lads watch the mirror carefully. What will Lonnie do? They can almost hear the turmoil going on under Lonnie’s straw hat.
“It would be tempting to give up, stop and use a phone. Should I? But no, the highway is just three-quarter mile further. That horse needs to be stopped now! Maybe he’ll slow down again. Maybe ...”
Lonnie steels himself and lengthens his stride just a bit more. His breath begins to come in tearing gasps. The sweat starts to run down his back and he begins to catch up to the buggy in front of him.
Now the buggy is 80 feet ... now 50 ... now 15 ... now he is within just a few strides of the elusive carriage, and there it goes again!
For some reason, the horse out front has decided now to quicken the pace. Now, when victory was almost within his grasp, now, when his grueling sprint was almost over, the gap widens again.
Lonnie feels like collapsing on the pavement. The highway with its heavy traffic is closer yet though, and Lonnie is made of stern stuff. He grits his teeth, tosses his hat to the side and extracts one more effort from deep inside himself.
The boys in the buggy are shaking with mirth and are now more boldly peeking into the mirrors. They see the sweat blotches on Lonnie’s shirt, the set of his shoulders and the determination of his stride. When the whites of Lonnie’s pained eyes come into plain view, it is all the passengers can do to restrain themselves from shouting in laughter.
Lonnie makes a few final staggering strides around the buggy and grasps the horse by the bridle. “Whoa!” he gasps in a quavering voice. He is utterly spent. Having stopped the horse, Lonnie bends over, sides heaving, sweat dripping, struggling only to regain some oxygen and equilibrium.
A voice floats out of the carriage behind him, cool and collected as you please. “Well hello Lonnie! What’s the problem?”