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Senior Correspondent

In which a plan goes terribly wrong, Billy Bug is left hanging and Our Millie saves the day.

Our Millie used to say that sometimes you fall into a good situation and can't see it 'cause you are lookin' on the other side of the fence, but it all works out in the end.

It was the meanest, ugliest old bull Billy Bug ever did see and it was pacin' back and forth along the path across the fence from him and not takin' its bloodshot eyes off him. Billy Bug had been watchin' it for some time tryin' to figure out just what it was doin' and which way it was going, 'cause it was the only thing standin' in the way of him and the juiciest, biggest and sweetest blackberries in the county. Well, the bull and the rusty barbed wire fence and the sign that said "Trespassers Will Be Shot," of course.

But Billy Bug knew he could figure a way around all these obstacles 'cause it was blackberry pickin' season and Big Mil has sent him out to pick some for her blackberry cobblers. And there was nothin' better than her warm cobbler and cold milk. He just knew he would get the first piece if he could get to that patch. He could also take some to eat just himself 'cause there were so many. He even had four pails to carry them.

After a while he hit on a plan. He would get Our Millie and Pearlie Gates to help, and he knew it couldn't go wrong. He thought about havin' Our Millie jump up and down and wave her hands and get the old bull lookin' at her while he and Pearlie could go around back and get the berries before the bull knew they were there. Pearlie was bigger and could carry more, and Our Millie could run real fast if she had to. But then, she might fall and get trampled by the old bull and Big Mil would be real mad 'cause she always liked Our Millie best.

So, he had another plan. He and the girls would watch for the best time to go in when the big bull was on the other sides of the woods. He decided that was between 2 and 3 p.m. Since there would be three of them, they could carry more berries.

When they got to the fence with their pails, Our Millie wouldn't go into the other field for nothing. She said it just wasn't right and besides she was afraid of the bull and the mean Mr. Finney with his gun, and Big Mil with her hickory switch.

It was decided that she would stay on the safe side and warn them if she saw the big bull. She could take the pails and let them climb over the fence easier.

Billy Bug noticed that Pearlie Gates was wearin' bright red pedal pushers, but he didn't say anything to her. He wasn't sure he believed that tale about bulls not likin' read anyway. Besides they weren't goin' to be there that long.

Things were goin' well, they were gettin' lots of berries and there was no yellin' from Our Millie. Billy Bug was whistlin' and grinnin' as they headed back to the fence, when all of a sudden Pearlie Gates started screamin' and runnin,' flingin' her pails into the air and rainin' blackberries all around them. She was runnin' right toward Billy Bug, and right behind her racin' at full speed was that big bull, his nose to the ground, snortin' and bellowin'. Pearlie found herself losin' her balance and slippin' on blackberries in a mighty skid. She went down on her back on mashed blackberries and the big bull went jumpin' over her and right at Billy Bug. In the meantime, Billy Bug was headed for a dead tree beside the fence. He made it up to the second branch, and then the waistband of his jeans got caught in the next branch and he ended up hangin' upside down with the branch about to give way and his jeans rippin' and him cryin,' though later he said he was just tryin' to make noise and scare the old bull away while it wa circlin' the tree and eyein' Billy bug all around.

On the other side of the fence Our Millie had been scratchin' chigger bites and lookin' at some butterflies landin' on yellow flowers and not payin' much attention about what was goin' on with the berry pickers. She looked up just in time to see Billy Bug scramble up the tree and Pearlie Gates layin' on the ground with blackberry juice smashed into her pedal pushers and hair. Next thing she knew Pearlie had gotten through the fence, though Our Millie didn't know how, and was racin' down the hill yellin' for Big Mil at the top of her lungs, and Billy Bug was still tryin' to keep his jeans from rippin' and the branch from breakin', and the bull was still pacin'.

It all happened so fast and Our Millie kept backin' away until she fell into a bunch of big prickly bushes and stayed there real quiet, 'cause just then Big Mil was runnin' up the hill with Pearlie Gates at her heels, and old Mr.Finney with his pickup truck, and his big gun and two pit bulls and a hound was roundin' the curve in the road wheels squealin' and dust a-flyin'.

Just when Billy Bug's jeans were about to give way the dogs started after the old bull, chasin' around his heels, and one of them nipped him on the nose and that old bull let out a cry like a baby and raced away to the other side of the field as fast as he could move.

Mr. Finney didn't shoot nobody, but he and Big Mil glared at each other for a long time, and Big Mil threatened Billy Bug and Pearlie Gates with her hickory switch all the way home. Our Millie came out of the bushes and followed them a little later.

Pearlie Gates headed home and said she didn't want any old blackberries anyway. Her ma was so mad that she ruined her pedal pushers and new white Keds that she said she wasn't allowed to play with Big Mil's young'uns anymore.

It turned out that Billy Bug had so many cuts and scrapes from the rusty barbed wire fence that they took him to the doctor in town and he had to get a shot. He said it hurt worse than any old bull could have, but he didn't cry. They were told to watch him for a few days to see if he got lockjaw.

Big Mil was mad about a lot of things, but Our Millie was the hero and even made Big Mil smile a little. It seems she fell into blackberry bushes right there on her own side of the fence. Big Mil made the best cobbler and gave the biggest piece to Our Millie. She said these were the juiciest berries she had ever baked with. Billy Bug just kept complainin' and movin' his jaw back and forth to see if it was goin' to lock before he could eat his piece of cobbler. Our Millie kept watchin' him to see what it would be like if his jaw would lock. Would it be open, closed, or sideways? She was disappointed when it didn't happen. But, she had saved back a few blackberries and gave them to him later when nobody else was around.

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