The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse

by William Saroyan
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What did John Byro said to the boys after looking at the horse in "The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse"?

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Towards the end of the story, John Byro happens upon the two boys who have stolen his horse, and he recognizes his stolen horse. Byro is a friend of the boys’s family. He says to the boys that he could “swear it is the horse that was stolen from (him) many weeks ago.” He then looks into the horse’s mouth and says that the mouth of this horse is “tooth for tooth” the same mouth as the horse that has been stolen from him. He then says that he “would swear it is [his] horse if [he] didn’t know [their] parents.” He says to the boys that he knows how renowned their family is for honesty and so, despite the horse being “the twin of (his) horse,” he knows in his heart that the boys are not thieves.

Of course, John Byro really does know that the horse with the boys is in fact his stolen horse, but he is offering the boys a chance to redeem themselves, return the horse, and preserve the hard-earned reputation of their family. When he mentions “the fame of [their] family for honesty,” he is letting the boys know that they must return the horse or risk ruining their family’s reputation. He perhaps does not say so outright in order to avoid publicly and explicitly harming that reputation. When he takes the trouble to examine the horse so closely, even looking in its mouth, he is letting the boys know that there is no doubt that this is his stolen horse.

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In the story, John Byro is the owner of the horse that Mourad and Aram have stolen. One day, as the boys are making their way to a deserted vineyard, they come across John Byro.

After saying good morning, John Byro studies the horse for some time, then he asks what is the horse's name. Mourad tells him the name before Byro comments that this horse looks exactly like his missing horse. He then asks if he can look inside the horse's mouth to inspect its teeth.

After looking at the teeth, he says,

"'Tooth for tooth,' he said. 'I would swear it is my horse if I didn't know your parents. The fame of your family for honesty is well known to me. Yet the horse is the twin of my horse. A suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart. Good day, my young friends.'"

Clearly, John Byro knows that this horse is really his, but he does not want to accuse the boys of theft. After all, their tribe is well-known for its honesty. Perhaps he wants to give the boys the chance to do the right thing.

Whatever the case, the boys do the right thing. They return the horse to John Byro the very next day.

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