Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pharaoh's Nightmare

By Mary Vee
Genesis 41:1-13

Pharaoh went to bed late after celebrating yet another birthday. His closest, and trusted adviser bowed and stepped backward to leave the room. "Good night, Pharaoh."

Pharaoh shook his head. "Yet another birthday."

His adviser stopped and raised his eyes. "A delightful party! Not as exciting as the time you honored the servants."

"Ahh, yes." Pharaoh nodded and chuckled. "Two years ago. I'll never forget the look on the baker's face. He thought I wouldn't find out what he did. Well, I showed him, and all the other servants at the party. They can't hide the truth from me."

The adviser stroked his beard. "And your butler has remained a faithful servant."

"True, he has. I felt bad about throwing him in prison with the baker. Yet, I needed to discover the truth. Fortunately I did, and in time to present my verdict at the party."

"Wise choice, Pharaoh."

"You may take your leave." Pharaoh yawned and crawled into bed. He pulled the blankets close to block a cool breeze and fell asleep within seconds. That night he had a frightening dream. He suddenly awoke. Sweat puddled on his forehead. His body trembled and his heart raced. After looking around the room to be sure everything was save he fell asleep again. Again he had a disturbing dream.

The next morning Pharaoh rubbed his shoulders. His muscles ached. He felt like he hadn't slept at all. "Steward!"

Seconds later the steward entered. "Yes, Pharaoh?"

"Gather all the magicians of Egypt" Pharaoh paced in front of his bed. "--and all the wise men!" He clapped his hands twice. "--at once!"

Later that morning Pharaoh stood before the magicians and wise men of Egypt. "I had a disturbing dream last night. You must tell me what it means." He sat on his throne and took a deep breath. "Last night I found myself near the river. Seven cows, fine looking and fat walked out of the water onto the shore. Clearly they ate of the rich, nearby meadow. As they stood on the water's edge, seven skinny, ugly cows walked out of the water. They stood for a moment next to the fat cows. Then, before my eyes, the skinny, ugly cows ate up the fine looking, fat cows."

The wise men and magicians' eyes went wide. The butler offered Pharaoh something to drink.

Pharaoh took a sip and set the cup down. He leaned forward. "There was a second dream. This time I stood in a field. Before me, seven heads of grain came up on one stalk. They appeared plump and good to eat. Next, seven thin heads, marred with disease from the east wind sprang up. The seven thin heads of grain suddenly devoured the seven plump, healthy heads." Pharaoh reached for his cup again, closed his eyes, and took a sip. He set the cup back down. "Well? What is the meaning of my dreams?"

The magicians and wise men shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads. One spoke out, "Pharaoh, this indeed is disturbing. The meaning is too great for us to know."

The butler stepped back and gasped. He bowed to Pharaoh.

Pharaoh turned to him and squinted. "What? Butler"

The butler bit his lower lip. "I'm sorry, Pharaoh. I've forgotten a message. When you were angry with your servants you sent both me and the chief baker to prison in the house of the captain of the guard. We each had a dream one night; each with it's own meaning. There was a young Hebrew man there, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us, giving each his own meaning. Everything he said came true. Pharaoh restored me to my office and hung the baker."

Pharaoh stood and folded his arms. "Well, what was his name?"

"I believe it was Joseph, Pharaoh"

"Guard! Find Joseph and bring him to me--at once!"

Is Joseph in trouble? Will Joseph be able to help Pharaoh? Why did Pharaoh have these dreams? Click on the comment button to answer. Stop back on Saturday to see what happens next.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Joseph's Code

By Mary Vee



Here is the answer to last week's puzzle:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pharaoh's Birthday Party

By Mary Vee
Genesis 40:20-23

Pharaoh sat back in his throne. He scanned to the right and left at his guests busily drinking, eating, and laughing. Some danced to the festive music composed specially for this birthday celebration others listened intently to lively conversation. Pharaoh clapped his hands together. The music stopped and the guests quieted down. "Bring forth the chief butler and chief baker."

The butler and baker's eyes grew wide. They looked at each other then at hundreds of eyes staring at them. The baker gulped and the butler wiped sweat from his brow.

"Come forth," Pharaoh commanded. The chief guard gave them a nudge forward. The butler abruptly threw his hands out to keep from falling. Their boots clattered on the floor one--step--at--a--time. The butler bit his lower lip as his legs marched forward, nearing death. Pharaoh picked up his glass and held it high then rose before his guests. He paused a moment. "You who are in this hall today are honored. No other has been chosen to attend this celebration of my birthday. You've served me well." The guest applauded. Pharaoh raised his hand and they quieted. "And now, in your presence, I've decided to announce my judgment regarding the butler and baker in your presence. Step forth, Chief Butler."

The Butler sighed. His eyes scanned to the right and left then he looked at the ceiling and whispered a few words. Pharaoh lowered his head to stare into the Butler's eyes. "You have been found innocent."

A servant stepped forward and placed the king's cup in the butler's hand. The butler smiled and filled the cup. He tasted the drink to be sure it had no poisons, waited a moment then handed it to Pharaoh. "Your drink."

Pharaoh raised the cup and sipped. He smacked his lips together and nodded. "You are hereby restored to your position as chief butler."

The Butler closed his eyes and bowed. "Thank you, Pharaoh." The guests applauded and cheered.

Pharaoh straightened his back and pressed his shoulders. "Baker, step forward." The baker boldly stepped forward, flicked himself in a quick bow then raised his eyes. Pharaoh scowled. "Baker, you are guilty, as I suspected."

The guests gasped and stepped back. Pharaoh raised his voice toward the guests. "That you all may know, Pharaoh will discover any evil act--" He turned to the guards and flung his left arm in the direction of the court. "Take him. Hang him--now!"

The baker's jaw dropped. He collapsed to his knees and pressed his hands together. "No! Pharaoh. I beg you. It will never happen again! Please. My family--I--I--" His voice faded as the guards dragged him out of the banquet hall. The doors slammed behind them.

The banquet hail stood silent.

Moments later Pharaoh cleared his throat. "It is my birthday. Start the music."

The guests looked at each other. They appeared to be frozen. Then one note sprang from an instrument, followed by another. The music invited all to dance. Some did. Some did not.

The butler sighed and sauntered to his seat. He sat down and tapped his fingers on the table. He turned to a friend. "I'm forgetting something."


"Well, if I knew, then it wouldn't be forgotten. What was it--I promised someone I would do, or say, or go--oh, maybe it will come to me tomorrow. Let's eat."

The Bible tells us God has kings, or pharaohs, or any other who rules to do His will--even the one's that don't believe in Him. How do you think Pharaoh found out that the baker was guilty instead of the butler? Why did the Pharaoh really invite the servants to his birthday party? What lesson did you learn from this Bible story?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baked Goods For Pharaoh

By Mary Vee
Genesis 40: 16-20

A cool breeze swooped through the prison window. Joseph shivered. The butler did as well, but only for a moment. The good news about being released from the dungeon in three days made him laugh and clap his hands.

The baker slapped the butler on the back. "Great news. I suspect my fortune will be the same." He turned to Joseph. "I had this weird dream that I was in as well. Let me tell you what happened so you can give me my good news."

The butler smiled. "Yeah. Hurry and tell him. Then we can celebrate together."

The baker rubbed his hands together as clouds blocked sun rays from shining in through the prison window. A brisk wind whistled through the bars. The baker faced Joseph. "Three white baskets sat upon my head. The top basket had all kinds of warm breads and freshly baked goods ready to serve Pharaoh. Suddenly a flock of birds swooped down on me and ate the food right out of the basket." He folded his arms together and nodded. "Now, tell me of my good fortune."

Once again God gave Joseph the meaning of the dream. Joseph gazed into the baker's eyes and sighed. "This is the interpretation of your dream. The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree. The birds will flock to you and eat your flesh from you."

The baker took two steps back and fell to the ground. "Please let it not be so. I didn't mean to do what I did."

The butler's jaw dropped. "It was you! It was you all along? I'm in this dungeon because of you?"

The baker held his hands together. "Honest. I didn't think Pharaoh would find out. What are you mad about, anyway? You get to go back to Pharaoh's service, but in three days I'm--I'm--"

Joseph turned and closed the door. He bolted the lock. The baker's lamenting seeped through the door and followed Joseph up the stairs.

Three days later the captain of the guard opened the window of the outer prison door. "Joseph. Bring me the butler and the baker. Seems Pharaoh decided to celebrate his birthday by throwing a party for his servants."

"He is?"

"You know Pharaoh. He does what he wills. Now, bring me the butler and the baker. They are to attend the party."

Joseph hurried to their cell and unbolted the door. "You've been invited to Pharaoh's birthday party. He's decided to honor all his servants, don't ask me why."

Suspicious looks fell on their faces. Then the baker wiped sweat from his brow and smiled. "Look's like you were wrong, Joseph." He swiped his hands together. "Let's go to a party."

The butler shrugged. "Maybe you're free. Still, I'd much rather not have spent these last three days in the dungeon."

Joseph opened the outer door. I hope the butler remembers me when he is restored to service.

Will the butler be restored to Pharaoh's service? Was Joseph wrong about the baker's dream? Will the baker get away with his crime? Will the butler remember to mention Joseph to Pharaoh? Stop by to read the next story to find out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Joseph's Keys Maze

By Mary Vee

DIRECTIONS: Help Joseph find the keys.

HOW DID YOU DO? Click on the comment button to say you found the answer.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Butler

By Mary Vee
Gen 40:1-15

"Joseph, got a job for you."

Joseph set his load down and glanced toward the jail door.

The captain had given Joseph charge over all the prisoners allowing him to decide what each man did. The last thing Joseph wanted to do was sit around a prison cell day in and day out. He liked the work--the chance to think--to organize and improve the prison system--quite under the authority of the captain, of course.

Most likely no one outside of the prison knew of Joseph's ideas and how he improved the budget yet insured all prisoners received essentials. Fighting decreased among the inmates, protests ceased, cooperation increased. The captain enjoyed taking credit for the improvements. In exchange, he made sure Joseph had whatever he needed to get the job done.

Joseph approached the jail door. "What can I do for you?"

The door groaned wide enough to allow two men to fall forward. The guard slammed the door and peeked through the window. "Seems the butcher and baker got themselves into trouble with the king. You know what to do."

Joseph bowed his head. "Yes, Captain."

He led them down a dark hall to a stairwell. Narrow steps curved down and disappeared into an inky black emptiness. Joseph grabbed their hand chains and pulled them forward. "You're bunking in the south wing tonight." At the bottom of the stairs Joseph unlocked a door and pulled it open. "Here you are, accommodations for those who offend the king." Joseph shoved them into the cell and closed the door. He dropped the bolt then returned to his duties.

The next morning Joseph grabbed a torch and walked down the spiral stairs to check on the Butcher and Baker. He opened the door and shoved in some bread. The Butcher and Baker didn't move. Joseph looked at their troubled faced. Glimmers of sun rays poked through a tiny window near the ceiling. "What's wrong?"

They looked at each other then back at Joseph. "We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter."

Joseph leaned against the door post. "God is the one who interprets dreams. Tell me your dream and I will ask Him what it means."

The chief butler rubbed his finger through his hair. He nervously folded his arms. "In my dream I saw a vine right before me. The vine had three branches which had budded with huge blossoms that seem to shoot forward. And from these blossoms were the most magnificent clusters of ripen grapes I've ever seen. I looked down and found Pharaoh's cup. I took the grapes and pressed them into the cup to until it reached the perfect color. I swirled the liquid around. Then, before my eyes Pharaoh appeared, sitting on his throne. I placed the cup in his hand." The butler let his arms fall to his side. "What does this mean?"

Joseph suddenly realized God gave him the answer. "This is the interpretation of your dream. The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift your head and restore you to your place. You will once again place Pharaoh's cup in his hand as you did before."

The butler smiled wide. "Three days? Three days and I return to Pharaoh's service? That is fantastic. Thank you."

Joseph smiled. "All I ask is that you remember me when all is well for you. Please show kindness to me. Make mention to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was taken captive from the land of the Hebrews--I didn't do anything that would earn me time in this dungeon."

The butler rubbed his hands together. "Three days, I'll be out of here in three days." He looked back at Joseph and clapped his hands together. "Of course I'll tell the Pharaoh what you did for me. Don't worry. I won't forget."

What about the Baker's dream? Stop by next Wednesday to read about his dream. In the meantime let's talk about today's story. Joseph could have chosen to leave the butler and baker alone. Many prison guards did. Instead, he faithfully did his prison duty even though he didn't like it. As a result, the butler saw Joseph's testimony. What did Joseph do that let this Egyptian butler know he loved God? How can we do the same?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Prison Door

By Mary Vee
Gen 39:7-23

The prison door screeched as the guard yanked it open. "Says here in my orders you hurt Potifer's wife. Pretty dumb move, I'll say."

Joseph's head lowered. Not wanting to be struck again, he whispered, "I didn't do anything to her."

The guard laughed. "Yeah. That's what they all say." He pushed Joseph toward the keeper of the prison. "Take this slave and lock him up. Potifer's orders."

The keeper looked up from his work. "What'd he do?"

"You've got your orders!" The guard pushed Joseph closer to the keeper. "Take 'im and lock him up until Potifer decides to release him--or until he dies." The guard walked away laughing.

The Keeper inspected his new prisoner. "Must've been pretty bad what you did." Joseph kept his head low. The keeper faced him. "You seem a respectable kind of person--not wrenching at your chains or squirming to escape. Still, I'll keep my eye on you. If you prove your worth, I'll give you some freedom within the prison."

Joseph whispered, "Thank you, Sir."

"This way." The keeper led Joseph down a hall then down narrow, steep stairs. He chose not to pull Joseph by the chain wrapped around his neck like the guard had. "You're not like the others who are brought here. What did you do?"

Joseph sighed. If I report the truth, he might strike me. What do I say? He cleared his throat. "I was bought to be a slave in Potifer's house a few months ago. He liked my work. He appointed me to oversee his household. All went well."

The keeper stopped. "So what happened?"

"One day when the servants all had work outside the house, Potifer's wife asked me to spend time with her." He paused and closed his eyes. "I told her no. I needed to do my work. I wanted to please Potifer by finishing an important task he assigned. She followed me around. Before I knew it, she screamed and then told all the servants and Potifer I had mocked her."

The keeper unlocked a prison cell door. "I don't know if your story is true, but, like I say, if you show your worth, I'll give you freedoms in this prison." He pulled the door open.

Joseph walked inside and stared at the dark walls then at the keeper. The door slammed shut with an echo. He slid to the floor and wept. "Oh God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--how did I get here? How have I displeased you?"

He woke the next morning swiping tears from his face. The prison door opened. The keeper shoved water and moldy bread inside the cell. Joseph sat up. "Thank you."

The keeper cocked his head. "Never in my life have I seen a prisoner like you." He turned away, paused, then turned back. "I could use help with my work. I'll give you a chance to prove your salt. Grab your food and follow me."

Joseph scurried forward, scooped up his food and followed the prison keeper. The keeper led the way to the food supply. "Pharaoh never gives me enough workers. You feed the rest of the prisoners while I take care of other duties."

Joseph swallowed the bread, ignoring the worms, and rubbed the crumbs from his mouth. "Yes, Sir."

Days went by. Joseph found himself doing more and more duties for the prison keeper. After a month, the keeper simply gave Joseph a list of duties without checking up on him. With every task, Joseph made sure to talk about God. He let those around him know God gave him the strength and desire to do his work. He praised God for successes.

One day the keeper of the prison stopped Joseph. "I'm pleased with your work. This prison has never run so well. Your God is making everything in this prison prosper. We have enough food. The prisoners have behaved better. Everything under your supervision has improved."

Joseph lowered his head a little. "Thank you, Sir."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Genesis 39 Word Puzzle

By Mary Vee

Directions: Find the words listed below in the puzzle. Click on the comment button to say you found all the words. Have fun!



ANSWER to last week's Easter riddle:

Christ the Lord is risen, Alleleluia!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Joseph's Work

By Mary Vee
Genesis 39:2-5

Joseph's jaw dropped as he followed the steward into Potifer's home. The ceilings reached far above his head, magnificent paintings covered many walls, costly drapes flowed across windows. His toes curled back into the sandal each time they touched the cold marble floors. Servants bustled back and forth carrying out their duties.

The steward slowed his pace. "Keep your head low when Potifer speaks to you. Obey any instruction, and be sure to keep any answer short. He doesn't want a friend, he wants a servant."

Joseph wiggled his shoulders. The Egyptian's slave clothing felt weird. They didn't wear tunics like he use to wear. He didn't like the way he looked.

The steward glanced at him. "Stop wiggling. You'll get use to our way of life or spend your future days in the prison." He gruffly laughed.

A few steps further the steward stopped at the doorway to a large hall. Three large rows of tables in the shape of a "U" took up space to the left. A man dressed in unusual clothing turned. He stood as one who had great power and wealth. "Is this the new slave?"

The steward bowed; Joseph copied the movements. "Yes, Potifer."

"Bring him forward."

The steward pushed Joseph guiding him toward the master of the house. Joseph stopped a few paced before Potifer. He lowered his head. Potifer came closer and inspected the new slave. "He has muscles, he appears healthy, and he has displayed proper respect." He waved his hand and turned away. "He will do. Put him to work."

Sparks of happiness pumped the next few beats in Joseph's heart. I was approved to work in this place. God has taken care of me, despite being sold as a slave by my brothers.

He followed the steward down the hall. The steward tapped a small whip on his leg. "Take care to do all you're told. If you behave, you'll find Potifer to be a kind master. If you make him unhappy, he'll throw you in prison."

Joseph nodded. The next few weeks Joseph found himself scrubbing floors, moving heaving things, and serving food. The steward came to him one night. "Potifer is pleased with you work. He wants you to work as my assistant."

Joseph didn't know whether his heart pounded for nervousness or excitement. Either way he followed the steward's every instruction. The work seemed easy. Joseph discovered new ways to do things. One night the steward met him in a hall. Joseph bowed and held his head low. "If I may, I'd like to show you some ideas. Quick, easy ways to do the work."

The steward folded his arms and squinted his eyes. "We've done the job this way ever since I've been in this house." He paused. "Still, perhaps new ideas would be good." The steward listen and watched Joseph demonstrate. "Well, now. I think this will work. Tomorrow, we'll do this job your way."

Each day new ideas popped into Joseph's head. The steward met with him each night. One morning the steward took Joseph to Potifer's room. Potifer signaled for Joseph to approach. The slave bowed before the master of the house. Potifer took a step closer. "I've noticed your work. You have proven a trustworthy and dedicated servant. My house has prospered since you have come. Clearly the Lord is with you. From this day forward you shall be overseer of my house. Everything will be under your authority."

Joseph felt like leaping into the air--but he didn't. He simply smiled as he kept his head lowered. God has blessed this house and even Potifer's fields. Truly God has taken care of me.

Have you noticed how your heart feels when you do a job someone asked you to do? Sometimes your heart beats wildly like it's laughing. Sometimes it whooshes like a loaded train car climbing a hill. What makes the difference? One day your heart laughs when you take out the trash, the next day it whooshes when you take out the trash...what happened? What is God showing you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Slave's Journey to Egypt

By Mary Vee
Genesis 39:1

The sun baked Joseph's skin. Since his brothers stole his coat of many colors he only had a thin tunic to wear. Sweat dripped down his forehead and into his eyes. He tried to blink it away. Instead his vision blurred. He tugged at the ropes holding him prisoner at the back of an Ishmaelite caravan. "If only I could wipe the sweat off my face."

"You best be quiet." Another slave whispered to him. "They catch you talking and they'll rope your neck, or beat you."

Joseph looked up and saw an Ishmaelite glaring back at him. His foot smacked into a rock causing him to stumble. He bit his tongue to keep from crying out.

Joseph thoughts swirled from memories of being thrown into a deep pit by his brothers to eating juicy figs with his father and mother to freezing the night before while trying sleep without a blanket on the cold desert sand. How did he get here? Where was he going? What would happen to him?

His stomach growled. The Ishmaelites gave him only a small piece of bread and a cup of water for supper. Breakfast wasn't any better. He closed his eyes and pictured the roasted lamb served a few nights ago. Mother made her special broth and fresh bread to go along with the meat. Joseph signed. I thought I was too full to ever eat again.

The caravan came to a stop. Joesph raised his elbow to wipe sweat on his upper arm then blinked the bright sun from his eyes. He for forced his tongues to find moisture to lick his lips. "So thirsty."

One of the Ishmaelites pressed his way toward Joseph. He raised his whip. "Did I hear one of you slaves speak?" Joseph's eyes went wide and he shook his head. The man lowered his whip. "I suppose you're thirsty?" Joseph and the other slaves lowered their heads. The man laughed. "Well, we can't have you dieing of thirst, now can we. Can't hardly sell you for a good price that way?" He guffawed and reached for his water skin. "Take a drink. Not much, mind you." He poured some water in Joseph's mouth. "By tomorrow, you'll fetch me a good price, no doubt."

Joseph held the the water in his mouth to wash the mucky film away. He swallowed the water and looked toward the sky. Thank you God for the drink.

The next day the caravan entered Egypt. Joseph passed noisy marketplaces filled with merchants selling food, blankets, and jewelry. Musicians played strange music and the people wore strange cloths. Joseph was so busy looking around he hadn't noticed that the caravan stopped. He walked right into the back of a camel.

An Ishmaelite untied his ropes and grabbed the end. He tied the slave's ropes together and held his whip high. "Try to escape and you'll regret it." He led Joseph and the other slaves to a platform. "Stand in a straight line."

A second Ishmaelite raised his hands before the crowd. "We have collected the finest slaves to serve you. We've searched far and wide to bring you the best. Look here at their muscles." Someone pushed Joseph forward. "Now here is fine slave. Strong, healthy. What is your bid?"

A well dressed man pushed his way to the front. "There will be no bidding. I will buy him for Potifer." He handed the slave trader a bag of coins and signaled for Joseph's release.

The Ishmaelite opened the pouch and nodded. "Release the slave to him."

Joseph kept his eyes toward the ground and stumbled forward. The well dressed man grabbed the rope and led Joseph through the marketplace toward the edge of the city. At the end of the street was a home large enough to be a palace. The man led Joseph through the gate to a small building. "Akhom." An older man opened the door. "Take this slave and clean him up. Prepare him to work in Potifer's house."

Joseph's trip to Egypt would not be the kind most people would want to take for a vacation. He was tired, thirsty, hungry, cold, and hot. His feet and arms hurt. He learned quickly to not speak. Yet in the whole trip, the Bible never tells us that he grumbled against his brothers.

Why didn't Joseph grumble? In our story what did he thank God for? How was he able to thank God when everything seemed to be bad? What can we learn from this story?

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Can You Say on Easter Day Riddle

By Mary Vee

DIRECTIONS: Add or subtract letters from each alphabet letter to find the answer


I hope you printed last week's dot to dot out and made your picture. You should have seen 3 crosses on a hill. Print out another one, connect the dots, color it and give it as a gift to someone you love.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WWJD Part Two

By Mary Vee
Today's story is the second in a two parter. Enjoy this original Easter-time story.

Tom parked the quad he borrowed from Mr. Timm behind Jason's. Jason whipped off his helmet and threw it on the ground. "I guess I understand your not wanting to fight Carl. He put a kid in the hospital last week when he didn't get his bus money."

Tom grabbed his lunch and walked to the edge of Snake Pit Ravine. "It has nothing to do with his smashing me to pieces, although I like my face the way it is." He unpacked his food and bowed his head.

Jason plopped his lunch next to Tom's. "You feeling OK?"

"Yeah." Tom gnawed into his bologna sandwich. "I thanked God for my food."

Jason shook his head and unpacked his food. "Didn't pack much again, huh?"

Tom gazed at Jason's chips, cookies, sandwich, brownies, soda, and jerky. If there was more in my kitchen I'd have packed it. I was lucky to find the bread.

Jason pointed to his chips. "You can have these."


Off in the distance a motor hummed. Tom stood and looked across the ravine. "Someone's riding through Mr. Timm's pastureland. Isn't that Carl's quad?"

Jason squinted. "Yup. That's him. How'd he get over there? I thought Mr. Timm had that pasture fenced in."

Tom stuffed his food back in the bag and grabbed his helmet. "He does. The only way Carl got over there was if he broke the fence." He hurried back to his quad. "Let's go. We've got to keep the cattle from wandering out."

Tom opened the throttle and ripped along the edge of the ravine toward the fence blowing a dirt cloud behind him. He assumed Jason kept close behind. The ravine narrowed to a shallow gully near the fence line. Tom whipped the 4-wheeler to the left and stopped the engine. He raised his visor and turned to Jason. "Look at that. He rammed his quad into the gate!"

Jason and Tom stared at the damage. The gate had been knocked away from the posts and was laying on the ground. "It was a 4-wheeler that did this all right. My dad had to fix a gate like this one time when a pick-up slid on the ice and rammed into it. My mom complained for months about the cost of fixing it."

Tom sighed. "Mr. Timm doesn't have much. He lost a quarter of his cattle in last year's winter."

"Help me pick it up." Jason grabbed onto one end of the gate. "Maybe we can lean it against the posts for now."

Tom grabbed the other end. Together they heaved the broken pieces up and pushed them toward the posts. The gate slapped against wood. "This won't keep the cattle in. You stay here. I'll get Mr. Timm."

Tom leaped on his quad, yanked his visor into place and flew toward Mr. Timm's house. After explaining what happened, Mr Timm called his ranch hand, grabbed his tools, and hopped in his pickup. "Come on. Show me the spot." Tom sat in the front of the cab and gave directions.

Jason waved as they drove up. "I scared a few cattle away from here while you were gone."

Mr. Timm shook his head while inspecting the broken wood. "This is gonna be expensive. I should have installed a stronger gate." He turned to Tom and Jason. "I sure appreciate you noticing this problem. The herd would have trampled right out and gone who knows where. You boys can head back home. I'll take care of the gate."

Jason gave Tom a ride back to the barn. "I gotta get home. See ya tomorrow."

Tom pulled his bike out of the barn. He took the long way back to give himself time to think. How is Mr. Timm going to afford to fix the fence? He'd never ask for help.

Tom rode down the street where Mr. Proctor's Quad Shop was. He saw a used quad on display. "Hey Mr. Proctor, you lowered the price on that 4-wheeler."

Mr. Proctor wiped greasy hands on a towel. "Sure did. You interested?"

"Well, I--I think I might have enough saved--I--could I take it for a ride?"

"Sure. Don't take long, though. I'm getting ready to close for the day."

Tom stepped toward the quad. He smoothed his hand over the surface. The greasy smell of the shop filled his lungs. Mr. Proctor cleared his throat. "You gonna take that thing for a ride or not?"

Tom swung his leg over the seat and bounced his body into place. He sat for a minute imagining a race against Jason to Snake Pit Ravine. Then he remembered the fence. He rubbed his arm along the handles and grabbed the throttle. It felt good in his hand. Tom bounced on the seat once more before swinging his foot onto the floor. Mr. Proctor looked over his glasses. "Well?"

"Nope. Not today, Mr. Proctor. I used my money on something else. Guess I'll have to start saving for a 4-wheeler tomorrow."