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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Nipping the Sweeties

Twelve-year-old Kane swept the black and white squared linoleum floor. The broom swished back and forth, brushing bits of chocolate and crumbs from other dropped sweeties into a pile.

 “You're doing very well, Kane. Is this your first job?”  Kane's boss, Mr. Rutherford wiped his finger across the counter top. “This place is spotless. Keep up the good work and I'll give you a raise.”

Kane felt his heart swell with pride.

“Did we go over the rules, Kane?”

Kane looked up at the elderly man. “I'm not sure. What rules?”

“You can nibble on as many sweeties as you'd like, but you are not to give any out to your pals without them paying for it. I trust you can abide?”

A nodding head gave its approval.

“Very well. I'll be back in a hour. Do you think you can handle it?” The boss waited for another nod and then left Kane alone.

Kane wiped the counter clean again and polished the glass jars holding a variety of colored sweets. The bell tinkled and Kane looked up. “Kyle? Ramsay? Rory? Kirsten? What are you doing here?”

Kyle stepped up to the counter. “We heard you got a job here with auld man Rutherford and came for a sweetie.” The boy lifted the lid off and reached inside, grabbing a handful of boiled sugar drops.

“Don't do that.” Kane grabbed the lid and put it back on the jar. “You're not allowed to have sweets unless you pay for them. That's one of Mr. Rutherford's rules.”

Kirsten walked over to the other side of the counter. “Can I have a few?” She batted her eyelashes as Kane. “Come on, Kane. I know you like me.”

“You can't have them unless you pay for them. If he notices anything missing, I'll loose my job.” Kane glanced from jar to jar to make sure they weren't pinching any sweets.

“I don't think you're our friend any more,” Kirsten pouted. “What do you think, Kyle?”

“He's no friend of mine,” Kyle said, walking to the door.

“Mine either,” Ramsay said.

“Nor mine.” Rory shut the door behind them.

Kane stood watching them through the windows as they walked away from the shop.

A few minutes later Mr. Rutherford came by. “I saw your pals leaving. I hope you didn't give them any sweets.”

“I didn't. I promise. They wanted me to, but I said no,” Kane said.

“Very well. That's enough for today. Come back tomorrow after school.” Mr. Rutherford took some money out of his wallet and gave it to Kane. “Thanks for your hard work.”

The next day at school his friends avoided him. Whenever he approached they ran off. Mathematics class was at the end of the day. Rory, Kirsten and Ramsay were in the class. Whenever Kane looked at them, he'd find them whispering things to the other classmates.

That afternoon he showed up as planned at the sweetie shop. Mr. Rutherford stood behind the counter waiting for him. “Ah, it's Master Kane. I'm glad you showed up. I'll be gone for a while. Take care of the shop. Tidy up and keep it clean.”

After his boss had left, Kane went to work. He refilled the Rosebuds and Turkish Delight. He'd just screwed the lid on when the door opened. The bell tinkled as the four friends marched inside.

Kyle stepped up to the counter. “I brought some money today, but I don't feel like wasting it when I can have all the sweets I want for free. You see, Kane, if you don't let me have some, I'll make sure nobody at school speaks to you ever again.”

The others nodded, arms folded across their chests.

“Go ahead and do that if you want. No sweets unless you pay for them. That's the rule.” Kane spoke with firmness.

“All right. If you want it that way.” Kyle turned and winked at the others. Ramsay and Rory ran behind the counter and threw Kane to the ground. They pinned him while Kyle and Kirsten filled bags up with sweets. “I think we have enough for now.” Kyle ordered them to let Kane go and the four of them rushed out the door.

Kane stood, brushing the dirt off his shirt.

Mr. Rutherford chose that moment to come back to the shop. He saw sweets lying on the ground in front of the counter and half empty jars. “What's all this about, Kane? Did you let your friends have some sweets? I hope they paid for them.”

“They bullied me, Mr. Rutherford. They threw me on the floor and stole them.”

“That's a load of rubbish, Kane. You let your friends help themselves. You broke the rule. Your services are no longer required.” Mr. Rutherford untied Kane's apron and tossed it on the counter. “You'll get no pay for today and I'm going to call your mum and dad about this.”

“But Mr. Rutherford...”

“Don't speak. Just leave.” He pointed to the door.

Kane's chin drooped on his neck. He sauntered out of the door and down the street.

Kirsten, who had parted ways from the boys, watched the saddened Kane as he walked home. Feeling guilty, she went over to him. “What's wrong, Kane? Why did you leave your job?”

“What do you care? I got fired. You and Kyle and the others made me lose my job. Mr. Rutherford thinks I gave you all the sweets. Leave me alone. Go and play with your friends. I don't want to talk to you again.” Kane ran off, leaving the upset girl standing in the middle of the sidewalk.

Without hesitation, Kirsten marched into the sweetie shop. She explained to Mr. Rutherford that Kyle was behind all of it and he coerced the others to do this. When she finished her story, she left.

That evening Kane sat watching television. The telephone rang. His mother called for him. “It's Mr. Rutherford, Kane. He wants to speak to you.”

Kane gulped. “Oh.” He took the telephone from his mother's grasp.

“Kane? Your friend, Kirsten came in and told me what happened and that none of it was your fault. I've called Kyle's, Ramsay's and Rory's fathers and told them what went on. I've been assured they won't step inside the shop again. I thought you'd like to know. I want you to come back to work tomorrow. I've hired a helper for you too.”

Kane, thrilled to have his job back, accepted the offer. The next day after school he went to the sweetie shop. He grabbed a broom and worked cleaning the place up. When the door opened and the bell tinkled, he looked up. Kirsten stood there.

“Oh no. I thought you guys weren't allowed back in here.” Kane scowled.

“It's only me. Mr. Rutherford said I could work for him, to earn the money from the sweeties I ate.” Kirsten smiled and picked up a cloth. She polished the jars until they shone.

Kane and Kirsten worked at the shop for the next year and they both got raises!

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