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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Bold Billy
By Ann Grover


“Watch me.” Billy whispered to the other boys before setting out across the schoolyard. He approached the outhouse from the back, but not before getting a whip-like branch from a bush at the yard’s edge.

A piercing shriek erupted from the outhouse and the door banged open. Miss Bailey bolted out, jerking at her petticoats and shirtwaist, and running for the schoolhouse. After a moment, Billy sauntered back, tossing the thin stick into the tall grass and whistling nonchalantly.

“Billy, yer brazen, you are.” Henry’s eyes glowed with admiration.

“But yer gonna get caught,” added Bert.

“Not me,” denied Billy. He lay back on the stubble and gnawed on a knot of grass. “I don’t reckon Miss Bailey knows who’s...”

The clanging of the bell interrupted their conversation, and they reluctantly headed back into the schoolhouse and their Arithmetic lesson. Poor Miss Bailey appeared flustered and disheveled as they passed. Billy winked as he slid into his seat, but then his face became the epitome of innocence as he listened to his teacher’s instruction.

Miss Bailey began to open her drawer for her chalk, then stopped.

Billy smirked.

“Pay attention, boys and girls. Get out your slates. I’m going to dictate your lesson instead. Please follow along.”

“Now see what you done,” Henry hissed in Billy’s ear.

“I didn’t do nothin’.”

“But she thinks you...”

Miss Bailey was moving on with the lesson, and the classroom was filled with the sounds of clicking slate pencils and the murmuring of the little ones reading with the older students.

Billy’s escapades knew no bounds, his imagination no end. Not a day went by that the little prairie school wasn’t entertained by the nine-year old’s enterprising and daring bravado.

Even now, he was thinking of his next act of mischief. So was Miss Bailey.

Arithmetic was soon over, and the little school went on to Geography and Citizenship. Then, it was time for dismissal.

“Billy, please stay behind,” requested Miss Bailey.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Billy, I’d like you to tidy up the stable area, please, and bring in firewood for tomorrow.” Miss Bailey had a knowing look in her eye that Billy couldn’t miss. Quickly, contritely, he did the job he’d been asked to do, fetching the rake used for piling manure and old hay, then gathering wood to bring inside.

When Billy arrived the next morning, Miss Bailey was standing outside the schoolhouse along with a group of children. A pall of smoke hung about the building, and a few of the pupils were coughing. Gerald, one of the older students, came outside carrying a bucket of smoldering material.

“You can light a fire now, Miss Bailey. The chimney was plugged from the inside with a wad of hay.”

“Now, I wonder who did that?” Miss Bailey pondered aloud as Billy came into her view.

Billy turned around and ran. Miss Bailey made as if to pursue him, but she was no match in her long skirts. Gerald dropped the smoking bucket, yelling for someone to dampen it at the pump, and gave chase. With his lanky legs, he caught up to Billy immediately, picking him up and throwing him over his shoulder.

Billy struggled wildly, and when everything failed, he reached down and bit Gerald squarely on the backside!

At that, Gerald flipped him down and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, then marched him inside the schoolroom. Miss Bailey followed.

“Thank you, Gerald. Please watch the other children.” She motioned for Billy to sit on a stool in the front corner. “Billy Williamsen. You are simply...”


“Yes. And you’re...”


“Absolutely. And rude and...”

“Audacious. I’m going to quit school, Miss Bailey. I know all them words.”

“Because you’ve heard them so often. You’re in third grade, Billy. You can’t quit yet.”

“Pa needs me on the farm. I don’t need no spellin’ or readin’.” Billy stuck out his chin defiantly.

“Is that why you’re always making trouble? So I’ll send you home?”

“Nah, Miss Bailey, I just like funnin’ folks.”

Miss Bailey regarded Billy for a moment. “How about a deal? You stay out of trouble, and we’ll talk again in a year.”

Billy gazed out at the flat prairie. Perhaps, the lingering smoke in classroom smarting his eyes caused the tear to well up.

“Sure thing, Miss Bailey.” He ran out the door.

Miss Bailey’s shriek echoed across the plain as she opened the drawer and the snake slithered out.

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This article has been read 1156 times
Member Comments
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Allison Egley 09/08/07
Hehehe Billy certainly was bold. I thought this this was really good and very creative.I loved the ending too, getting to see Billy's last trick. Well, at least for a year. ;)
Joanne Sher 09/08/07
What a boy! Love all the detail, and the dialog. This had me charmed and intrigued throughout. A fun read for sure.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/08/07
I loved your impertinent, audacious boy. You brought Billy to life, and then some.
Sherry Wendling09/08/07
Heehaw! As clever a character sketch as I've seen on the FW site! I'm glad someone had the creativity to paint the not-so-noble side of boldness, and did it with such delightful humor! Marvelous writing.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/08/07
Great story! I've met a few Billys in my day, but none as endearing as this one.
Jan Ackerson 09/09/07
How I loved this story! I've only raised daughters, but for some reason I have a soft spot in my heart for little boys, and especially naughty little boys. This reads like an episode of "Little House on the Prairie", and I loved every word.
Dianne Janak09/09/07
Well written.. great story.. love the talent here it takes to write in a different era... !
Dee Yoder 09/09/07
Poor teacher! Your characters are richly defined. Love the story and the characters. Fine writing!
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/11/07
Fun story!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/11/07
This was great! I love your writing style. You are so good at crafting a story and engaging the reader. Another masterful etnry.
Sandra Petersen 09/11/07
Kinda thought Billy had one more trick up his sleeve, and I was almost expecting a booby trap of some kind in the door as per your hint about it midway through the story. This story has a 'Little House On the Prairie' feel to it. Fun reading this.
Brenda Welc09/12/07
Great writing, pulled me right in with this one. Good Job!
Betty Castleberry09/12/07
Great voice in this piece. Even though Billy was naughty, I love how you let us know he was also misunderstood without coming out and saying so. Good job.
Loren T. Lowery09/12/07
A fun story of a mischieveous little boy. My great aunt was a school marm of such a school in Kansas, I wonder if she had pupils like Billy. Most likely.
Patty Wysong09/12/07
I think Miss Bailey is a saint! :-) I loved the story.
Kristen Hester09/12/07
Great writing. I kept wanting Miss Bailey to pull one over on Billy. I think she's the one who is bold to so patiently teach boys like Billy. Good job.
Clyde Blakely09/14/07
I thought my school transcript was under lock and key at the juvenile detention office. Now I'll have to get even...