Jodi sat on the tree stump next to the barnyard fence peeping between the boards watching Blue Eyes enjoy the warmth from the sun. Jodi had always wanted a horse and wished Blue Eyes belong to her.

"Jodi," her mother shouted. "I need you to help me break green beans. Your father wants fresh green beans and potatoes for dinner."

"I'll be there in a minute, Mom," Jodi answered. "Do you think Mr. Whittaker would sell Blue Eyes?”

"I don't know if we can afford to buy you a horse," her mother said. "You'll have to ask your father."

"Dad, would you buy Blue Eyes for me?” Jodi asked her father who was busy throwing hay into the hayloft. "I won't ask you to buy me anything else this year."

"We'll have to see how well the crops do, Jodi," her father answered, leaning on the pitch fork. "I'm not sure Mr. Whittaker will sell Blue Eyes. You know the only reason he left him with us was to visit his daughter out west for a few months. He's coming back today and should arrive around noon."

"I'll see you later, Blue Eyes," Jodi said. "Maybe you'll belong to me someday."

Jodi pulled the string from a green bean then broke it into four pieces. She remembered the day Mr. Whittaker brought Blue Eyes to their farm. Blue Eyes brown tall lanky body glistened in the sun. She didn't know how tall he was, but she guessed him to be at least sixteen hands. She brushed her hair away from her face and all she could think about was Blue Eyes.

After dinner Jodi washed and dried the dishes. She hung the dish towel with tiny red roses imprinted in the corner on the rack and went into the den.

"Jodi," her father said. "Your mother and I are going to see Mr. Whittaker. He should be home since it's almost one o'clock. Grandma will take care of you while we're gone."

Her mother and father had been gone about an hour when Jodi heard a loud neigh coming from the barnyard. It was more a sound of fear than the usual quite nicker she was use to hearing. She rushed to the window and saw Blue Eyes huddled tight against the barn. His large blue eyes sparkled with excitement and fear. She ran out the door and down the path to the barnyard. She could see what the problem was when she reached the gate. Just inside the fence a black snake uncoiled its long slim body and slithered across the barnyard in Blue Eyes direction.

Jodi was panic stricken. She was terrified of snakes. She watched the snake stop and look around. The snakes jet black beady little eyes seem to be staring straight at her. The snake's skinny pink tongue was dashing in and out of its mouth. It took all the courage she had to run pass the snake to the barn. She grabbed a broom hanging on a nail then hurried outside. The snake hadn't moved, but Blue Eyes reared up in terror. Both of his front hooves were pawing the air. Jodi could feel her heart thumping against her chest. She managed to take a step toward the snake. Her hands felt like ice even though it was a hot summer day.

Blue Eye's neigh became louder. His eyes were focused intensely on the snake. He switched his tail vigorously making a thumping noise sounding like someone beating on a drum each time his tail hit the barn.

Jodi raised the broom well above her head in spite of the numbness she felt running through her body. Her head ached from the tension she was feeling. With all the strength she had she brought the broom down barely missing the snake's head. The snake slithered off at a fast pace toward the pasture.

Jodi ran to Blue Eyes. She knew she needed to calm him down. She leaned against his shoulder sobbing, telling him he was safe.

"Jodi," her father called, coming through the barnyard gate. "I've got a surprise for you."

"So have I," Jodi mumbled. "There was a huge black snake in the barnyard and he just about scared Blue Eyes and me to death."

"You must love Blue Eyes very much," her father said. "I never thought I would see the day you would tackle a snake."

"Blue Eyes was scared," Jodi said. "I had to protect him."

"A black snake isn't poisonous," her father explained. "The snake probably was headed to the barn in hope of finding a few mice for its dinner. I know how frighten you must have been, though. You shouldn't try to run a snake off with a broom, though. It could have been a poisonous snake and bit you. I was going to tell you Mr. Whittaker is willing to sell Blue Eyes and I can pay a little each month until he's paid for."

"Thanks, you're the greatest, Dad," Jodi said. "That's the best news I've heard today. I hope that black snake is scared enough to stay away from the barnyard. I'm still frightened by his presence even though he isn't poisonous."

"I don't think you have anything to worry about," her father said. "I would say you probably scared the snake to the point that he most likely won't be back for awhile."

Jodi kept her word and didn't ask for anything else. She said, “Blue Eyes was the best thing she could have, and she was happy with just having him.

Copyright © 1990  Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.