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Sugar & Salt
Written by Vanessa Rose aka lilyrose

*Note: I made the contest idea up just for fun.

The person stepped forward and took the salt container and poured a little more. Yes, Millie wouldn't know what she had done. The person almost dropped the container when the door slammed open. She turned around, gasping.

"Oh, Mark! I didn't see you! You startled me." The person said sighing with relief. Eleven year old Mark McCain bit his lip from embarrassment.

"Oh, sorry, Mrs. ---Ē

"Mark! How pleasant to see you again!" Millie Scott interrupted happily.

*********
Mark McCain turned from the North Fork woman and smiled at Miss Millie.

"How is Lucas today?" Miss Millie asked taking her pie from the counter.

"He's fine. Hey, is that the pie for the Town Contest?" Miss Millie grinned at him.

"Yes, indeed, it is, Mark."

"I bet Pa will bid for it." Mark said. Miss Millie gasped and shook her head at him.

"Young man, do not tell your father what you just said to me or you know what will happen! He will wash your mouth out with soap!Ē Millie said with stern eyes. "I'll be right back; I have to put my pie in the oven." Mark leaned against the counter and stared at the candy jars. He looked around and noticed the woman was gone. Millie stepped into the room and smiled at him.

"Now, what are you doing here?" She asked with a sparkle in her eyes.

"Well, Pa wanted me to ask you if you wanted to have dinner with us..." Mark explained.

"Now who would provide the food?"

"At the hotel." Miss Millie nodded.

"All right, I will join you for dinner but I have to go for a moment. Would you watch the pie?" Mark blinked. "Mark. You'll be fine. All you have to do is put mittens on and take it out of the oven. You don't want it to burn, do you?" Mark shook his head no. "I'll be right back. Oh, when you're done taking it out of the oven, will you sprinkle sugar on it?"

********

After Millie, Lucas and Mark had a wonderful meal at the hotel cafe, they parted ways went home. The next day, they arrived to see the bright banner with the words: North Fork Town Baking Contest. Lucas looked over at his son who looked like a little kid who was happy to skip school today.

"You know, son, the whole school is out because of the contest... Do you want to sit with your classmates or with me?" Lucas asked pulling up to the Marshall's Office.

"No sir! I want to be with you, Pa!" Lucas smiled as they both got down from the buckboard. His son was so very special to him. 'Oh, Margaret, I wish you were here to see our son grow up.' Lucas thought.

"Hello, Lucas! How are you doing? Where's Mark?" Marshall Micah Torrance greeted coming from his office. Lucas looked around and saw Mark talking with some of the schoolboys. "Oh, he's with Freddie again..."

Lucas sighed. Those two boys were trouble together but when they were apart...they were perfect angels.

"Mark!" Another boy, Billy ran up to his son.

*********

"Who do you think will win, Mark?" Freddie Toomey asked Mark. Mark shrugged.

"Don't know, maybe Miss. Millie or your Ma." Mark answered watching everyone set up the judges' table. Miss Millie was an excellent baker and maybe that's why Pa liked her so much but Mark knew better.

"All right! Gather around everyone!" Micah called.

"See you around, Mark!" Freddie called as Mark ran to his Pa.

"Son, I'm going to be one of the judges so you will behave, all right?" Pa told him. Mark nodded a little disappointed but the disappointment faded when one of the judges started to judge.... Pa lifted a pie cover and Mark knew it was Miss Millie's. Pa sliced the cherry pie and gave one small slither to each of the three judges. They all took bites when they suddenly started to gag. The whole town gasped.

"Water!" Pa begged.

********
The woman lifted her hand to her mouth trying to cover her amusement. It was such a perfect plan to ruin Millie Scott's always-winning pie!

"What is going on?" Micah asked as Sweeney gave them all water. Millie's face reddened. The woman smiled. Yes, yes, her plan was going to be perfect!

"Who's pie was that?" Lucas McCain demanded with tears in his eyes. "Someone put too much salt in it!"

"It was mine, Lucas." Millie whispered. Everyone turned their heads to look at her.
********
Mark gasped. Miss Millie's had SALT in it?

"Millie? It was yours?" Mr. Toomey asked with shock on his face.

"Yes, and I'm so so sorry." Miss Millie turned and ran into the General Store.

"She's disqualified!" Micah said rubbing his cheek. How could Miss Millie have salt in it? After a woman's pie had won, they all left the street. He saw his Pa go into the General Store. He ran after him and saw them quietly talking.

"What's wrong, Pa? Why did Miss Millie have salt in her pie?" He asked, with questions whirling in his mind. Pa and Miss Millie turned around to look at him. Millie had red eyes from crying.

"Mark Warren McCain, did you put salt in the pie?" Pa said with terribly stern eyes. He barely used Mark's middle name unless it was something really bad.... Mark's eyes widened.

"Pa! Why would I do that?" Mark exclaimed, surprised that his own Pa would think that he would do that to Miss Millie.

"Maybe because Freddie asked you to?" Pa said.

"I would never do that to Miss Millie's pie! Honest, I wouldn't!" Mark said upset that his Pa wouldn't listen to him.

"Mark, tell me if you accidently put salt in it, please. Just be truthful." Miss Millie said softly.

"I didn't do anything with you pie except put sugar on it! That's all I did just like you told me to!" Mark said his voice raising.

*********

"Won't you believe me, Pa?" Mark asked Lucas. Lucas sighed and rubbed his forehead.

"I don't know son. Just be honest!" Lucas replied unsure if his son was lying or not.

"Pa!" Mark gasped. "I didn't do anything with that pie!"

"Son, why don't you go home and read the Good Book?" Lucas suggested. Mark's jaw dropped.

"Pa! You've got to believe me!" Mark's voice started to rise higher. Lucas looked down at his son, his brown eyes pleaded with Lucas to believe him.

"Mark," Lucas warned. Micah walked in when Mark ran outside.

"What's wrong with him, Lucasboy?" Micah asked.

"We think that Mark might have put salt in the pie." Millie said sighing.

"What in the world?! Why would you think Mark would do something like that?" Micah exclaimed.

"Well, Freddie could have told him yesterday to do it for his Ma to win." Millie replied sadly. Lucas had no idea what to do with his son. Was his son lying? All the evidence turned to him....

*********
Mark buried his head into his hands as he sat underneath the hotel stairs.

"Why would Pa do this to me?" He cried softly. "I didn't do anything." He started to cry softly when a warm comforting hand touched his arm..

"What's wrong Mark?" A woman's voice said.

"Oh, hello, Mrs. Toomey." Mark lifted his head.

"Won't you tell me?" She said kindly. Mark shrugged.

"My Pa thinks that I ruined Miss Millie's pie." He looked up at her. Her face paled.

"Oh? And what does Miss Millie think of it?"

"She believes I did it!" Mark almost shouted. "Sorry, Mrs. Toomey."

"Its all right. I'll go speak to your father."

"Thanks Mrs. Toomey but do you think if you talk to him it will change anything?" Mark asked.

"Yes, I think it will, Mark." Mrs. Toomey patted his shoulder and walked away.

***********
Mrs. Toomey stepped into the General Store.

"Mrs. Toomey! Hello! I'm so glad for you that you won the pie contest." Millie said noticing the blue ribbon in Mrs. Toomey's hand.

"Actually, Millie, I want to give you my award." Mrs. Toomey said looking down at the floor.

"You what?" Micah asked blinking.

"I cheated and I believe that you should have what you deserve." Mrs. Toomey explained. "I put the salt in your pie while you weren't there. Mark didn't do it, so please, just tell him that he didn't do it. I did and I'm so very sorry." Lucas gasped.

"Mrs. Toomey! You did it?" Millie asked.

"Yes, and I just want to say I'm sorry." Mrs. Toomey turned to Lucas. "Lucas, you better say your sorry to Mark. He's miserable."

"Thank you for telling me the truth, Mrs. Toomey." Lucas thanked her.

**********
"Son?" Mark heard his Pa's voice as he set the table with forks and dishes.

"Yeah, Pa?"

"I'm sorry, son. I was wrong about you putting salt in Millie's pie. Someone else did that." Mark lifted his head.

"Really?! You don't believe that I did it anymore?!" Mark exclaimed. He grinned.

"No, son, I don't." Mark dropped the dishes on the table and ran into his Pa's arms.

"Pa?" Mark asked with his face in his Pa's chest.

"Yes, son?"

"Letís ask Millie to not make any salty pies!" Pa let him go and ruffled his hair.

"All right, son." Pa grinned back at him.

"Oh, and Pa?"

"Could we have chocolate cake instead?"

THE END!

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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