In which we look back with fondness and fear at an ungrateful Bunty, learn a lesson in love and rejection and have a fine Sunday supper.
Our Millie used to say it hurts your heart and pains your ankles when love is rejected and an angry critter, all grown up and acting like king of the barnyard, decides he hates you. But, revenge is sweet.
The summer Our Millie rescued Bunty from Tom Bill, the big calico, tail-less cat, and took him to raise began about like any other, but proved to be a painful experience as summer turned into fall. Bunty was the smallest, sorriest lookin' little ball of yellow fluff you ever did see. He was sittin' all by himself in the corner of the barn lookin' mighty dejected and Our Millie felt so sorry for him. She scooped him up and cradled him in her hands, feeling the heat of his little body and hearing his faint cheep-cheeping. She taught him how to eat and drink water, and gave him a shoebox next to her bed with a little baby blanket to sleep on so he would be safe through the night, and just to be sure he was alright she reached out her hand and checked on him from time to time. Everywhere Our Millie went, Bunty was there acting so sweet and lovable. MJ said to get that dirty chicken out of her way, and Billy Bug kept teasin' her and callin' her Henny and sayin' she was growin' feathers, but Our Millie didn't care. Bunty was hers and she was going to keep him alive an healthy. And she did.
Bunty grew and the fluff became beautiful feathers of red and satiny black. He grew a bright red, luxurious comb, and had impressively big spurs on his oversized feet. One morning, long after he had left the shoebox bed and made the barnyard his home, he discovered he could crow. Then he found he could strut and prance around, and chase the hens and fight the other roosters. He always won and that made him strut more and attack harder.
Our Millie was so proud of him. He was so handsome and she had done a good job raisin' him. But one day when Our Millie was getting ready for school and runnin' down the road to meet Idy Clare, Bunty appeared around the corner and chased her. Not only that, but he flapped his wings in a windy, menacing way and turned his body in midair and spurred her ankle. It made her mad and hurt and when she saw the blood she began to cry. As time went on it made her scared 'cause every time she stepped outside he attacked her with a mighty force and put on a terrorizing show. Pa was about to wring Bunty's neck. Big Mil didn't say much but she chased him with the broom and mumbled under her breath.
It got so bad that Bunty even chased old Tri-Pawed, the dog who couldn't move very fast, and had him hiding under the porch til' nighttime. He terrorized the other chickens, and Tom Bill stayed up high and eyed him with disgust. Our Millie was kind of sorry she hadn't let Tom Bill have his way a few months ago.
The church van came on Sunday mornings to take all the kids in the holler to Sunday School. Our Millie went as usual. She was all dressed up in her flowered Sunday School dress and her Mary Jane shoes with the white anklet socks with the ruffles on top. She almost fell as she ran from Bunty, and he flung himself into the air and got one of his spurs caught in the ruffle of her anklet. Our Millie screamed and ran dragging Bunty toward the bus until he got loose and flapped away. He tore the ruffle off her anklet and had it hanging on his spur as he went. Our Millie cried and jumped on the van as fast as she could and Uncle Fuzzy, the driver, slammed the door. Uncle Fuzzy said he would have run over Bunty, but then he would have the whole van cryin' and the teacher would get on him for bein' mean to animals and little kids, so he drove away. Big Mil just leaned on her broom and watched it all from the porch.
When Our Millie got home from Sunday School that day something seemed different. She didn't see Bunty in the yard. Tri-Pawed was layin' on the top step and Tom Bill was takin' a big ole bath in the sunshine by the rain barrow. She made it to the door without bein' attacked and got in the house without a flurry of wing flapping behing her. The most wonderful smells of Sunday supper were comin' from the kitchen. Big Mil sent her and MJ and Billy Bug to change and wash up. They had a special supper that day. Our Millie couldn't tell why, but the corn bread and potatoes and green beans were just right and they even had blackberry cobbler for dessert, but what tasted the best, so good she even asked for seconds, was the chicken and dumplings Big Mil had on the stove. Our Millie had never tasted anything so good and she told Big Mil she just loved them. Big Mil just smiled and gave her some more.
For some reason Bunty never did appear. Pa said he probably went off some place and was livin' in another barnyard. MJ rolled her eyes, Billy Bug snickered and Big Mil just put more chicken and dumplings on all their plates. Our Millie sat back in her chair, rubbed her tummy and smiled.