by Judith Allen
Our Millie and Billy Bug have an adventure and make a new furry friend.
|Two moon pies and a bag of chips
In which nobody has time for Our Millie, not even Momma Cat or the piglets.
Uncle Fuzzy comes to the rescue, and a ride in the bed of a pickup truck on a dusty road, with a drooling redbone hound proves to be an adventure.
Our Millie woke up restless and itchy and pouty. Her lower lip was puckered out and her eyes were blurry from sleep. She knew she could wash her face and feel better. She could brush her hair until it shined, 100 strokes they said, but she always stopped at about 20. If she tied it back with a bow it would look just as pretty. She could walk out on the front porch and listen to the morning birds singin' and that would make her smile and it was mighty hard to keep that lower lip stuck out when you're smilin'. But, she just didn't want to.
She just kept thinkin' that this day was goin to be like every other one and it made her grouchy. She wanted something to happen. Something different. An adventure.
She clomped downstairs and slunk into the kitchen. She thought maybe Big Mil would have time to show her how to make a cheesecake. She had never had one and she didn't think Big Mil had ever made one either. But she had seen one in a magazine and it looked so good. She couldn't figure out if cheddar cheese would work though and it was her favorite.
When she looked around she saw that Big Mil was haulin' a bucket and mop into place and had a basket with rags and soaps and feather dusters. Big Mil was cleanin, and when that happened, and she saw you lookin' you would soon be cleanin' too. So, Our Millie grabbed a hot biscuit and was out the back door as fast as she could go. She didn't even stop on the porch or the steps. She headed for the cedar tree at the edge of the yard. Billy Bug was there before her, lickin' his fingers of the butter from his biscuit and takin' furtive looks at the door. Our Millie was bummed that she forgot the butter,and started yellin' about it, but when they saw the back door open and heard Big Mil callin' their names, they were real quiet, thinkin maybe they should get a little further away.
Billy Bug said he was grabbin' his bike and headin' for town. She could go too if she wanted. Our Millie said no, with a not so gracious toss of her head and went off to find Pa. Maybe they could go fishin' and she could finally catch a catfish and have the whole thing for supper. When she found Pa, he and grandpa had their heads together and their hands covered with oil, tryin' to fix the tractor. It looked like it would take most of the mornin'. Pa said they could go fishin' on Saturday, but that didn't help her on Thursday.
Grandpa had promised she could learn to drive the tractor, but they couldn't get it started, so she didn't bring that up. Aunt Sophie had come from the city to visit so she and grandma had six months of gossipin' to get caught up on and they were goin at it side by side in rockin' chairs, shellin' beans as they talked and laughed and brushed tears from their eyes for long lost relatives. Our Millie didn't want to have anything to do with that.
Our Millie had new paper dolls and could share them with Pearlie Gates and Idy Clare. But Pearlie Gates had the chicken pox. Of course, she was gettin' all kinds of attention that Our Millie wished she had, but it probably wasn't worth it to get sick. She could tell Idy Clare she was sorry and they could be friends again, but they had been mad at each other for almost a month now, and she wasn't sure she was sorry because she couldn't remember why they were mad. Maybe she wasn't sorry and it was Idy Clare who should apologize. It made her brain hurt to think about it.
Tri-pawed was chasin' chickens. Momma Cat was sleepin' in the mornin' sun with the kittens. The piglets might be fun to play with but when she got near the pen the older hogs were gruntin' and rootin' and she couldn't get near the babies. The prospect of a new adventure did not look good.
Billy Bug was sprawled on the ground, nursin' two scrapped knees and tryin' to keep tears out of his eyes. His bike with a crumpled front wheel was propped awkwardly against a fence post. That is how Our Millie found him as she trudged down the dusty road toward Mr Miller's store. If she couldn't find anything to do at home, maybe she could get a big orange drink and talk to miz Emily behind the counter for awhile. She sat down beside Billy Bug and looked at the mangled bike with him. While they were being forlorn and unhappy they heard the sound of Uncle Fuzzy's pick-up truck headed their way. Uncle Fuzzy drove the school bus, and delivered groceries and supplies to the old folks. He took kids to Sunday school, and if anyone was sick and needed to go to the doctor he always seemed to know about it and was there with his truck. If you needed a ride or an errand all you had to do was stand by the road and he would stop for you. Today he had a full load since the Romaine sisters had jammed themselves into the cab. They had to go to the fabric store. They could never agree on what to buy alone and in spite of their ample size they insisted there was plenty of room for both of them. They promised they wouldn't interfere with the drivin' and would make themselves small. Since he couldn't make himself pass anyone in need, he stopped for Our Millie and Billy Bug. After some thinkin' on Uncle Fuzzy's part accompanied with chin rubbin' and head scratchin' beneath his battered old fedora, he loaded the mangled bike in the bed of the truck and told Our Millie and Billy Bug to hop on in and don't mind Rusty. Our Millie looked over the tailgate and saw some old rust-covered tools but she couldn't figure out why they should mind them.
Our Millie and Billy Bug climbed over bales of hay and around boxes and sacks ,chicken wire and a fence post trying to find a comfortable place . They settled with their backs pressed against the cab of the truck right beneath the window, and that is when they heard a whimperin' and whinin' comin' from beneath an old moth eaten blanket along the side where Uncle Fuzzy kept a spare tire and jack.
Followin' debatin about it for awhile and hearin' the whinin' gettin' louder, Our Millie slowly lifted the edge of the blanket to look inside. After that, she wasn't really sure what had happened but it seemed to her that a tornado of red fur, gangly legs and lollin wet tongue burst from the blanket and pinned her against the bed of the truck. No amount of pushin' or shovin' with hands and feet, and no yellin' or screamin' could free her from Rusty the redbone pup.
Billy Bug was laughin' and pullin' at the hound, and Our Millie finally righted herself and looked into the happy, adorin' eyes in the long furry face and found herself huggin' and smilin' and losin' her pouty lower lip.
When Uncle Fuzzy stopped to deliver the Romaine sisters to the fabric store he told the story of Rusty. It seems he was the runt and not as cute as his brothers and sisters, so nobody paid much attention to him. He was very lonely. Uncle Fuzzy felt sorry for him and brought him home, but he only wanted to stay in the truck and hide under the ratty old blanket. Uncle Fuzzy didn't know what he was going to do with him. He just couldn't seem to let himself be happy. Until he met Our Millie.
Billy Bug and Our Millie got out of the truck then and petted Rusty goodbye, but he whined so much that they said he could come too. Every step they took, he took. Every place they went, he was right there. Our Millie kept feelin' warm and her heart kept havin' that little bubblin feelin' of joy that happened once in awhile. Billy Bug said he was happy too. Rusty just yawned and did his doggy smile.
At the end of the day, they were sittin' at the County store waitin'
for uncle Fuzzy's truck to pull up. The three of them sharin' two moon pies, a bag of chips- Rusty liked bar-b-que, and a Coca Cola, cause Billy Bug used his money and he didn't like orange drinks. Our Millie forgot how mean she had felt, Billy Bug didn't mind his scrapped knees, and Rusty slept with pure doggy contentment with his head in Our Millie's lap.
Our Millie realized her adventure was just beginnin'. How could she convince Big Mil to give Rusty a home?