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The Wedding
A Bring Milly Back Production
By Michelle Palmer

Chapter 7:  Sunset at Miller’s Pond

The next week found Milly and Lou in a fury of activity.  Lou went to work on planning the reception.  She ordered decorations for the hotel, which is finally where she and Milly settled on the wedding to be held.  Milly understood Lucas’s apprehension with having the barn dance at the McCain Ranch.  She too wanted their wedding night to be perfect, and that included no Shivaree.  Lou said they could have more people in the barn behind the hotel anyhow.  She even had the colored lanterns still from the last barn dance!

Monday and Tuesday passed quickly.  Milly didn’t see Lucas, but she didn’t really have time to think about it!  When she was on her way to school on Monday, Mark passed her on the street.  True to his word, Lucas was checking in on her everyday.  Mark gave her a note with a grin.  “I was told not to open it!” he declared.

Milly smiled as she opened the envelope and slipped the piece of paper out.  She looked up at Mark who was staring at her with a grin on his face.  “How was school?”

“Fine,” Mark answered.

“You have homework?” Mark nodded.  “Well, you best get home and get started on it, Mark.  You’re father will need your help these next three weeks.  He’s awfully busy with the wedding himself.”  She pointed a finger at him.  “And no complaining!  Or…I’ll make you eat mush every morning for a week!”

“Yes ma’am.”  Mark tipped his hat to her then turned and hurried off.

Milly watched him leave and shook her head.  That boy!  Then she went to sit down on a bench to read the note.  She smiled as she slowly unfolded it.

My Sweet Mil,

In only two weeks and five days you will become Mrs. Lucas McCain.  I can’t sleep at night thinking about you.  I hope you have a good day teaching the children.  And I hope you have Lou Mallory working hard on our wedding.  Yesterday was so wonderful, Milly.  That’s how I always want our Sunday’s to be.  The memories of that day will stick with me until I see you again.  I especially enjoyed watching your cheeks redden at the sight of my bare chest.  Whatever will you do when we are married?

Love,
Lucas

Milly smiled as she bit her lip and stood up.  After tucking the letter into her handbag, she hurried toward the church.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mark stopped by again.  This time Milly had sandwiches prepared for him and Lucas’s lunch.  Mark was pleasantly surprised since Lucas had told him he had to fix lunch when he got home.  She also handed Mark a container and told him it was some of Lou’s Irish Stew.  “Lou also put a couple slices of apple pie in there.”

“Mm,” Mark smiled as he smacked his lips.  “Especially now that she puts sugar in it.”  Mark turned, but paused.  “She…did put sugar in it?”

Milly laughed.  “I’ve tasted it, Mark.  I think Lou’s pie may just give me a run for my money!”  Mark dug in his pocket and handed her another note.  This one was all crumpled up.  She shook her head as she watched him mount Blue Boy and ride off towards home.

Milly again sat on the bench and took out the note:

I love you, Milly.  I woke up this morning wondering how it will be when you are laying beside me and the sun shines on your sleeping face.  Only two weeks and four days until I make you my wife.  Have a blessed day.

Wednesday morning, Lou and Milly were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and addressing invitations when Mark rushed in.  “It’s here, it’s here!” Mark declared excitedly.

“Young man!” Lou stood up and put her hands on her hips.  “Yer supposed to be at school!”

“But Miss Lou, it’s here!” Mark declared.

“What’s here, Mark?” Milly asked.

“The orders!”  Mark swallowed.  “Freddie and I were riding past the train station and…”

“What were you doing over by the train station?  That’s not on your way to school!” Milly declared as SHE stood up and put a hand on HER hip.

“Oh…” Mark swallowed hard, realizing he was in trouble with not only Lou, but also with Milly.  He wasn’t sure if he liked having two bossy women in his life!  “Well, we…Mr. Anderson at the station told us that there are packages on the train for both Miss Lou and Pa.  I bet it’s the stuff!” Mark declared.

Milly and Lou gasped as they hurried for the door.  At the door, Milly turned and pointed firmly at him.  “You!  Get to school!” she demanded.  Then they hurried for the train station.

Not only did Lou and Milly receive the supplies they ordered for the wedding dress, but Lucas received his lumber.  Later that morning, as Lou and Milly hurried into the General Store to purchase a couple additional items they would need, Milly practically ran into Lucas coming out with a keg of nails.

 Lucas stopped with the keg under his arm.  “Oh, excuse me!”  Then when he saw who it was, he smiled.  “I was hoping I’d run into you today, Milly.” He grinned down at her.

Milly’s face lit up as a pleasant smile spread across her face.  “I haven’t seen you since Sunday!” she declared.  Their smiles grew as Milly continued staring into his handsome face.  “How are things?” she asked quietly.

“Coming along.”  Lucas took her arm as somebody ran into her. He moved her to the side to allow people into the store.  “I got the lumber.”  He pointed toward his wagon.  “So that means the ranch is now off limits for the future Mrs. McCain.”

“Lucas, I want to help!” Milly declared.

Lucas sat down the keg and put his arm around her shoulders.  “I want to surprise you, honey.  Believe me, you will be very surprised.”  Lucas raised his eyebrows.  “Besides that, I believe you and Mark have a few surprises up your own sleeve?”

Milly smiled and turned away from him.  She could hardly stand the suspense of it all.  She wanted so much for that day to be here already!  Lucas turned her back around.  He bent down and kissed her.  Milly quickly pulled away, embarrassed that there were so many people around.  “I must go, Lucas. Unless…you want to have lunch with me?”

Lucas turned and looked at his wagon.  He was anxious to get started on their bedroom.  But he also enjoyed being with Milly.  He turned back toward her and saw Lou standing on the boardwalk with her arms crossed and a stern warning on her face.  He knew she was warning him not to neglect his fiancée for matters of less importance.

 “I’d love to!” he answered.  Then he took her arm and walked to the hotel to have lunch with her.  Milly allowed Lucas to order their lunches.  She stared at him the whole time he ordered, just engrossed in his features.  Lucas self-consciously turned away from her as he grinned a blush.

“We’re eating a bit early today.” Lucas mumbled as he turned back toward her and took her hand.

“I want to get over to the school before lunch recess starts.”  Milly squeezed his hand as she leaned forward and smiled into his eyes.  “I’ve a matter to discuss with Mark’s teacher.”

“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow as he kissed the tip of her nose.  “What did the little pest do now?”

Milly’s eyes turned up into a smile.  She touched the tip of his nose with her finger.  “As a matter of fact, he did go to school by way of the train station this morning.”

“Oh?” Lucas lifted his eyebrows.  “He was probably checking on the lumber.”

“Hm…” Milly smiled.  “But I think it’s time to send Micah and Mark on that trip.”

“Are we getting rid of Mark and Micah?” Lucas mumbled as his face came closer to hers.

Milly laughed softly.  “Lucas, I…”

“What do ye think ye are doing?” Lou Mallory’s Irish brogue interrupted the lovebirds.  “This is a restaurant!  People are staring!”  She placed a hand on her hip and shook her head.  “Lucas, ye should try to be a little more discreet in public!  Honestly.”  Lou sat the plates down in front of them then turned to walk off in a huff.  But she stopped and turned.  Lucas and Milly straightened up in their chairs and began eating.  Lou shook her head.  “Never in all my days have I seen a couple more in love!”  She tipped her head to her side and chuckled, then she hurried back into the kitchen.

When they were done eating, Lucas sat the money on the table and stood up.  He grabbed Milly’s hands and stood her up.  “Do you want me to go with you?”

“No, I can handle this on my own, Lucas.”  She smiled up at him once more.  “You have a bedroom to build.

Lucas smiled coyly at her.  “Yes.  I do.”  Then he moved his eyebrows up and down a few times.

“Lucas McCain!” Milly pressed a hand to his chest and pushed him away.  “You best get started!”

***

Milly hurried to the school.  She wanted to catch Mark before he left.  When she arrived, she saw Mr. Griswald sitting outside on a bench watching the children play.  Mark had just untied Blue Boy from the hitching post when he saw her walk into the school yard.  He smiled as he hurried up to Milly and greeted her.

“Don’t you run off, young man!” Milly ordered.  “I want to talk to you!”  Mark didn’t like the tone in her voice.  He wondered if she was riled about his side-trip that morning.

He stood at the edge of the school yard watched Milly and Mr. Griswald talk.  He saw Mr. Griswald write some things down.  Milly smiled as she took the paper from him.  Then she turned and walked over to Mark.  “Don’t tell me I have to do extra homework for what I did!”

“What did you do?” Milly asked as she narrowed her eyes at him.

“Oh…” Mark cleared his throat and straightened up.  He reckoned he was really going to enjoy his Pa and Milly being distracted these next few weeks.  He’d be able to get away with stuff for awhile.  “I mean…I’m assuming I did something wrong since you’re here talking to Mr. Griswald.”

“As a matter of fact, Mark, I’m sending you and Micah to Kansas City on Saturday,” Milly declared as she held out the paper to Mark.  “And I’ve decided that I don’t trust you to get your assignments done on the train.  I think you’ll be too excited about your adventure.  So in the afternoons when you get home, I want you working on these assignments.  They are all to be completed BEFORE you board the train on Saturday!”  The tone in Milly’s voice warned Mark not to argue.

Mark looked down at the list and groaned.  There sure were a lot of assignments written down!  Then he thought of the perfect ammunition.  Now, it’s not that he didn’t like school – he was beginning to understand its importance.  But he wasn’t overly excited about a lot of homework instead of chores in the evenings either.  “But Pa wants me to work on the fence line in the afternoons!” He argued.

“Well, you just tell your father what I told you.” Milly declared firmly with a nod of her head.  “If Lucas has any problems, tell him to come talk to me!”  From the tone in her voice, she was ready to take his father on single-handedly.  And Mark had a feeling that his father would lose the match!

He watched Milly walk out of the school yard.  Then he looked down and read the list again.  He couldn’t keep the groan from coming.  “Boy oh boy, why’d she have to pick school teaching?”

***

The moment Milly got home from work, she and Lou hurried up to her room and laid out all the supplies they had ordered for the dress.  Milly’s hotel room soon looked more like a dress shop then a bedroom.  They spent much of that evening formulating a plan on how they’d go about in making the wedding dress.  Milly smiled as she thought about it.  It was going to be beautiful!

When Milly got up on Thursday, she immediately set out to begin cutting the material.  Lou brought up breakfast and both women worked several hours on the task.  Milly couldn’t keep her heart from swelling and tears from her eyes as she thought about the look on Lucas’s face when he saw her standing at the top of the stairs in her dress.  “Now don’t ye start crying!  We don’t want to ruin the dress!” Lou declared as she gave Milly a hug.

As they worked that morning and the next, they talked about all her hopes and dreams.  Some of the discussions were too private to go beyond the bedroom walls and Milly couldn’t keep from blushing.  But Lou assured her she’d helped with many weddings and every woman wonders and thinks the same things.  “They don’t call ya a blushing bride for nothing!”

At times, Milly was so nervous just thinking about her wedding that she seemed to take as many stitches out as she put in, but Lou just smiled at her and told her to stay calm.  By Friday, Milly felt panicked.  But Lou stayed true to her task and tried to reassure Milly. “We still have two weeks!”

Meanwhile, at the McCain ranch, Lucas grumbled at the orders Milly had given Mark.  He was so busy with getting the room built that it riled him for Milly to expect Mark to sit at the table and do his studies when there were a thousand…and one…things to do on the ranch.  Mark stated that he would GLADLY do the ranch work.  He even stood up from the table at one point, but Lucas stared at him and motioned for him to sit back down.  “Don’t want Milly riled at me!”

Friday afternoon, Mark came home, ate lunch, and then sat down to do his work while Lucas diligently worked on the bedroom.  Lucas once again began grumbling about all the work there was to do .  Mark listened as he sat the kitchen table doing his homework like Milly  had ordered.  “Doesn’t she know this is a working ranch?  Don’t have time to tend the stock…” Lucas grunted as he lifted another board up to pound.  “Don’t have time to fix the fence…” Lucas pounded his frustration out.  “And now I’m going to be stuck in town deputying for Micah for a whole week!”  Lucas pounded harder.  “A whole week wasted!  Doesn’t she understand that…”

Mark stood up and walked over to where his father was working.  “Pa, can I give you some advice?”  Lucas looked up at Mark and grunted.  Mark took the grunt as a yes and preceded.  “Stop taking it out on that wall.  I know you’re grumpy because you haven’t seen Milly since Wednesday; and you’re just torturing yourself!  I’ll stay here and finish up this last paper. Then I’ll start packing for the trip.  Why don’t you just get all cleaned up then ride on into town and spend some time alone with Milly?  Then when I get back from the trip, I’ll help you work on this.”  Mark folded his arms as he stepped even closer to his father.  “In fact, why don’t you get some of the other men to help?  They’ve offered, you know.”

“This is something I want to do myself, Mark,” Lucas declared as he pounded another nail into the board.  “Ouch!” he shouted with irritation as he stuck his smarting finger in his mouth.

“Why?”

“Why what?” Lucas snapped at him.

Mark shook his head as he put his hands on his hips.  “Gee, I didn’t do anything wrong.  I’m not the one who’s insisting on doing this whole blasted thing by himself!  Why do you want to do it yourself?”

“Well because I…” Lucas started.  Then he shot Mark an annoyed look.  “It’s not something you’ll understand, son!” he declared firmly.

“Oh, I understand alright!” Mark declared with a shake of his head.  “You get onto Milly for trying to do it herself, and then you do the same thing! Do you want me to tell you what that’s called?  It’s called…” Mark stopped when Lucas shot him a warning look.  “You know,  I think you are both perfect for each other.  You are so much alike!  You both are stubborn!”  Mark clamped his mouth shut after those words left it. He braced himself for the severe tongue lashing he was sure he’d receive.

Lucas suddenly stopped his work and stared at his son.  Mark’s words had struck a nerve, and Lucas knew there was only one thing left to do.  “Son…” he threw down the hammer.  “I’m going to go take a bath.  Then I’m going into town to romance my fiancée.”  He jumped through the frame of the newly built bedroom and onto the ground.  Then he started toward the barn, but stopped and turned.  “Oh, and thanks for the good fatherly advice!”

Mark smiled as he watched his father walk away.  He rolled his eyes as he went back to the table.  Finally!  Maybe now he could have a little bit of peace around here!

***

Milly smiled at six year old Matthew.  He had just put his first word together.  They both smiled and rejoiced as they looked at each other.  “You did it!” she declared as she hugged him.  “You read your first word!”  She looked down at the book and pointed to the next one.  He sounded it out and said it without any trouble.  “Good boy!” she praised him again.  “You see, I told you that as soon as you figured out the first word everything else would begin to make sense!”

She heard the door open.  Milly looked up to see Lucas standing there with his eyebrows raised.  “Working late today?” he asked with a grin.

The kids all turned to look at the big man standing in the doorway.  Milly gasped as she looked at the clock on her desk.  “Oh my!  Your parents will be frantic!” she declared.  “Children, you best get home!”  She watched the children gather their things then hurry out the door.  Then she turned back around and looked down at the book, then back at Matthew.  “Could you take this home and practice it over the weekend?”

“Mama says taint no reason to read when there’s work to do,” Matt answered.  “Mama says book learnin’s a waste a time.”

“But she sends you to school,” Milly pointed out.

“Mama says best to get me out from underfoot.  She says you’s a good babysitter!” Matthew explained.

Milly stared at that boy as he stood and walked out.  Her eyes filled up with tears.  She stared down at the book still sitting in her lap.  Lucas patted the boy’s shoulder as he took off his hat.  He slowly walked towards her.  When he reached the desk she was sitting at, he bent down beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder.  “I’m sorry, honey,” he said softly.

“I was just getting through to him, Lucas!” Milly pounded her fist in the air as tears squeezed from her eyes.  “I was just getting through and now he has to go!  It took me two weeks, Lucas!  Two weeks of working diligently every day and…” she stopped when her voice broke.

Lucas leaned forward and took her in his arms.  “I’m sorry, honey.”  He wrapped his arms tightly around her as she sobbed.  “I know it’s frustrating.  I know,” he soothed softly as he let her cry.  He gently rubbed small circles on her back as she quieted.

Milly finally lifted her face from his shoulder.  She wiped her eyes with her finger tips.  “I don’t care about the money anymore, Lucas.  I want to teach these kids all day!  I want them to come at 8 o’clock and leave at 3 like the other kids!” Milly declared as she looked down at the book still in her hands.

Lucas cleared his throat.  He wanted so much to give in to her wishes, but he had to stay stern.  He had to keep his senses about him.  “Now Milly, you listen to me.”  Lucas took the book from her lap and closed it.  He sat it down on the bench beside her and took her face in his hands.  “Listen to me, now,” he said sternly.  “We are doing everything we can to solve this problem, but you are going to just have to be patient!”

“Then let me teach all day for awhile!  You don’t have to pay me more!  I…” Milly’s eyes pleaded.

Lucas lifted his eyebrows and pressed his lips together in a stern line.  “You aren’t thinking reasonable right now, honey.  You are emotional and you’re thinking with your heart.  We’ve already had this discussion, and you cannot work anymore than you are working.  You know that.”  Milly sniffed but remained silent.  Lucas stood her up.  “Now…Mark and I will take care of these benches before he and Micah take the train tomorrow.  Tonight is just you…and me.”  Lucas smiled down into her face.  “So let’s just wipe those eyes.”  He dried her tears with his kerchief as he began talking softly to her.  “And smile.”  He kissed her softly.  “Because tonight is just you…and me.”

Milly smiled.  Her heart fluttered at the sound of his voice.  She loved the undivided attention he was giving her.  Lucas put his arm around her waist and she did the same to him as they silently turned and  walked out of the church.  Lucas took the key from her securely locked the door.  He turned and handed Milly the key.  “Your carriage awaits, my Love.” Lucas waved a hand toward the street.

Milly smiled as she saw the buggy waiting for them.  “We are going to Miller’s Pond, my love.  You and I will have ourselves a picnic.  Then we’re going to watch the sun set.”  Lucas helped her into the buggy.  “I’m going to spoil you, Miss Scott.”

“You look so tired, Lucas,” Milly commented once they were in the buggy and  the horse was on his way.  “You don’t have to do this.  You should rest.”

Lucas turned and smiled at his raven-haired beauty.  “Oh, but I intend to do just that, Mil,” he spoke softly, close to her ear.

“Have you been working hard?” Milly asked as she wrapped her arms through his and laid her head on his shoulder.

“I have.”  Lucas nodded.  “I was getting pretty grouchy.  Mark told me I was acting just like you were…I want to build the bedrooms all by myself and Mark reminded me I got onto you for the same thing.  He started to call me a two-face, but I stopped him before he went that far.”

Milly sighed.  “Two weeks…Two weeks then things will be calmer.”  Milly lifted her head from his shoulder.  “Won’t they?”

Lucas smiled.  “Well, since we are sending Micah and Mark back to Kansas City with your mother the day after the wedding, I’d say they are going to be very…very pleasant.”  Lucas turned his head to look at Milly.  He saw her blush.  “Now I know we’re thinking the same thing!” he chuckled softly.

Lucas stopped the buggy near Miller’s Pond and jumped down.  He turned and put his hands on Milly’s waist.  He paused as he looked up into her eyes.  They smiled at each other, then he swung her down.  Milly turned and grabbed the blanket while Lucas got the lunch Lou had prepared for them.  He waited for Milly to spread the blanket out then sat down.  Milly took the lunch from him and started to open it, but Lucas plopped down on the blanket and put his hand on top of the basket.  “I’m not hungry yet.”  He pulled Milly into an embrace and gave her a long, deep kiss.  Then he leaned against the tree and pulled her beside him.  They sat there for a long time just holding each other.  Neither said a word, but enjoyed the embrace of the other.

Milly laid her head on Lucas’s shoulder and closed her eyes.  There was a calm quietness between them as they allowed all their frustrations to melt away.  Milly let out a quiet sigh.

“What are you thinking?” Lucas finally asked softly as he kissed the top of her head and rubbed his hand up and down her arm.

“The wedding,” Milly answered as she toyed with a button on his shirt.  “I’m thinking about how wonderful it’s going to be.”

“Oh?” Lucas kissed the top of her head again.  “Tell me about it,” he whispered huskily.

“We decided to have it at the hotel.  Lou’s going to hold the reception in the dining room.  If there’s too many, we’ll expand it out onto the street.  The barn dance will be in the stable behind the hotel.”  She lifted her head back to look at Lucas.

Lucas smiled down at her.  “I think that’s a better plan, honey.”

Milly lowered her head back onto his shoulder.  “Lou’s going to decorate the whole hotel.  We’re going to have roast pig for the reception.  Is that okay?”  She felt Lucas nod.  He continued to rub his hand up and down her arm but said nothing.  Again, she started toying with the button on his shirt.

“What else?” Lucas whispered.

“We’re working on the wedding dress.  I can’t wait for you to see me in it.”  Lucas could hear her smile.

“Mmmmm,” Lucas groaned as he put his fingers under her chin and lifted her face up toward his.  He kissed her softly.  “Me neither.”

“My mother sent me a letter.  She’s so excited, Lucas.  She said paying for this wedding is money well spent.  She doesn’t want me to hold back at all!”

Milly smiled.  She had some surprises in store for her husband, but she couldn’t reveal them to him.  He’d find out in time.  She had already received two telegrams, and hoped there would be more.  Now that the train was going through North Fork, it made her surprises much more promising.

Quietness settled between them once again.  After a while, Lucas squeezed his arms tighter around Milly and kissed her cheek.  He pressed his cheek against hers and closed his eyes.

“What about you?” Milly asked softly.  “What are you thinking?”

“Well…” Lucas sighed as he brushed her hair with his hand.  “I’m thinking about how happy you’ve made me.  I’m thinking about having you as my wife and how nice it would be to hold you in my arms all night instead of for just a little while.  I’m thinking about the possibility of being a father again.”

“How’s the rooms coming?”

“Slow.”

“Lucas?” Milly waited for him to reply, but he didn’t.  He stayed with his cheek against her and softly brushed his hand through her hair.  His eyes were still closed as he enjoyed holding her close to him.  “I want you to do something for me. “  Milly turned in his arms and looked up at him.  “Would you?  Would you do something for me, Lucas?”

“Of course, honey.  Anything.”  He kissed her.

“Would you ask some of the neighbors to help you with the rooms?” Her eyes stared into his and pleaded with him.

“Milly, this is my wedding gift to you.  I want to…” He started.

But Milly shook her head.  “No, Lucas…YOU are my wedding gift.  Our lives…Our becoming one…That is the best gift I could ever receive.  Like you don’t want me doing it all by myself, I don’t want you doing it all by yourself.  Would you ask for help?  For me?  Please?”

“Well…” Lucas sighed.  Milly suddenly drew his head down to her.  She kissed his lips with a fiery passion – a passion Lucas hadn’t felt in a long time.  Lucas tightened his arms around her and moaned as the kiss deepened.  Lucas ran his hands up and down her back as she did the same.  The kiss they shared was more intense and deeper than any of the others.  When they finally parted several moments later, their minds where whirling.  Lucas pushed her away a bit.  He pressed his hands against her cheeks and widened his eyes as he stared into hers.  Then he laughed nervously.  “I’m afraid, my dear, that this session of cuddling has come to an end.”

He scooted further away from her on the blanket and opened the picnic basket.  They blessed the food, then started eating as they engaged in small talk.  Lucas didn’t want to think about the wedding night.  He didn’t want to think about holding her in his arms, because the kiss they had just shared was almost more than any unmarried man could handle.

When the food was gone, Lucas took out the cookies.  He bent over and fed her a bite as he smiled at her.  Milly did the same for him.  Later, they sat next to each other and watched the sun set behind the mountain.  Then they packed everything up and headed back into town.

Lucas walked Milly into the hotel lobby.  They had lost all track of time, and it wasn’t long before Lou’s Irish brogue warned Lucas about getting her in at a decent hour – especially after her mother arrived.  Lucas gave Milly one last kiss, trying to ignore Lou’s chastising.  Then he stood and watched her climb the stairs.  Milly walked backwards, smiling at him.  Lucas stared at her.

Lou thumped then walked up the stairs.  She grabbed the dreamy Milly by the arm and firmly turned her around.  “Ye should play a little hard to get!” she lectured Milly.  “Now, stop gloating and come with me!  Honestly, you’re acting worse than a school girl!

Lucas watched them disappear into Milly’s bedroom.  He couldn’t wait until he watched her descend those stairs into his waiting arms.  There would be no more goodnights.  After that final descent, she’d be his forever.

The Wedding — Trials and Tribulations

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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