The Children's Longfellow - Told in Prose
by Doris Hayman
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"I know you well," continued Gilbert, in a loud voice. "You cannot deny that you are the Franciscan friar named Timothy," But the ass still shook its head, and Gilbert continued to argue with the animal till a crowd gathered round them and began to mock and jeer.

"If this ass is Brother Timothy," they cried, "you ought to buy him and feed him on the tenderest grass. It would surely be an act of charity to show some kindness to a poor unfortunate who has been transformed into an ass."

The simple farmer took their advice, bought his own ass and led him homeward over hill and dale and, as they went, he exhorted the animal to behave well and be content. The children ran to meet their father and, when they saw what he was leading, they shouted for joy, for they could not understand that this creature was a holy friar, and not their own lost donkey.

"Oh, Brother Timothy," they cried, "we are so glad you have come back to us; we were afraid that you were dead and that we would never see you any more!"

Then they wove green garlands for his neck, patted him and kissed his head, and led him back to his stable. Henceforward, the donkey, who was always known as Brother Timothy, led a life of luxury; he had little work given him to do and so much hay and corn to eat, that he grew ungrateful and vicious. At length Farmer Gilbert lost his patience and said to the ass: "As our kindness is not repaid by good behavior, I shall have to see what a sound thrashing will do."

It would be difficult to tell you of all the vices that this spoiled animal had fallen into; among others was a habit of flinging up his heels, breaking his halter, and running away through woods and over meadows, defying the efforts of everyone to catch him. But his gravest offense was breaking out of his shed at night and ravaging the cabbage patch. This was too much for even the long-suffering farmer to endure, and he determined to take strong measures to curb the donkey's wickedness, whether the animal were a holy friar or not. So Brother Timothy was sent back again to his old life of toil. He was beaten without mercy, and instead of luxuries and caresses he had to work harder than he had ever done before. And this was not the worst, for as his work grew more his food grew less, till at last the poor creature could only take his revenge on his hard taskmaster by dying.

Great was the lamentation which then uprose, and sad was Farmer Gilbert to think that the unfortunate monk had died without repenting of his sins. Dame Cicely and the children cried for a week, and Farmer Gilbert recounted all the virtues of the deceased and added solemnly: "May Heaven pardon Brother Timothy and keep us from the deadly sin of greed!"


In the land of Acadia, within a fruitful and secluded valley, lay the little village of Grand-Pre. Its inhabitants were a sturdy race of French farmers, hard-working, kind, and generous. The land was exceedingly fruitful, and so freely did these simple farmers give to others that poverty was almost unknown in the village. The pleasant farmhouses had neither locks to the doors nor bars to the windows, but stood open like the hearts of their owners.

At a short distance from the village dwelt the wealthy farmer, Benedict Bellefontaine, an upright and stately man, in spite of his seventy years. With him lived his only daughter, Evangeline, a lovely maiden of seventeen summers, and the pride and joy of his old age. Her black eyes gleamed brightly from beneath the shade of her brown tresses and when, on Sunday mornings she walked down the village street to church, wearing her Norman cap, blue kirtle and earrings, all eyes turned to look at her with admiration, for she was without doubt the most beautiful girl in the whole village.

Of suitors she had many, but none found favor in her eyes save young Gabriel, the son of Basil the blacksmith. Basil and Benedict were old friends, and their children had grown up together almost as brother and sister, learning the same lessons and sharing the same sports and pastimes. As they grew up, their childish love deepened and strengthened, and now, with the warm approval of their respective fathers, their marriage was soon to take place.

One evening, Benedict was sitting by his fireside, and near him Evangeline was busy spinning, for in those days it was the duty of an industrious housewife to make all the linen which would be required for her future home. Presently the latch was lifted and in came the stalwart blacksmith with his son. The two elders took their usual seats near the hearth and smoked their pipes, while the young couple stood apart by the window and talked of their future life.

Said Basil: "I do not like the look of things just now. English ships with cannon pointed against us are at anchor in our harbor. We do not yet know whether their intention be good or ill, but we are all summoned to appear in the church to-morrow and hear his Majesty's command, which is to be made the law of the land."

"Nonsense," replied Benedict, "you look on present circumstances too gloomily. After all, since this land now belongs to the English, it is only natural that we should have to obey fresh laws. We are an honest and law-abiding people and they cannot intend to harm us."

"The English have not forgotten that we helped our kinsmen, the French, against them," replied the blacksmith. "Many of the villagers fear they mean to harm us, and have already fled to the forest, taking with them all the weapons they could lay hands on."

"Fear no evil, my friend," said the jovial farmer. "To-night, at any rate, let no shadow of sorrow fall on this house, for we are assembled here to draw up our children's marriage contract. Their house is built, the barns filled with hay, and all is in readiness for them."

As he spoke a knock was heard at the door and the worthy notary, Pere Leblanc, came in. The disquieting news in the village was discussed anew, and the notary said: "Man is unjust, but God is just, and justice finally triumphs. When I was taken captive and lay imprisoned in a French fort I was often consoled by an old story which ran thus: 'Once in an ancient city, whose name I cannot recall, poised on a column, stood a brazen statue of Justice. In her right hand she held a sword, and in her left a pair of scales. The birds of the air had no fear of the sword which flashed and glittered in the sunshine, and some of the boldest among them even built their nests in the scales. Now it chanced that a necklace of pearls was lost in a nobleman's palace and suspicion fell on a young maid-servant. Although her guilt could not be proved, she was condemned to death, and her execution took place at the foot of the statue of Justice. But as her innocent spirit rose to heaven, lo! a terrible storm swept over the city and struck the statue with such force that the scales of the balance were hurled down on to the pavement. When they were picked up, in the hollow was found a magpie's nest, into the clay sides of which the pearl necklace was interwoven.'"

The blacksmith was silent, though not convinced by the notary's tale, but he said nothing further on the subject. The notary produced his papers and ink-horn and drew out in due form the marriage contract between Gabriel and Evangeline; then, pocketing the substantial fee which the farmer offered him, he drank the young couple's health and withdrew. The old men settled down to their customary game of draughts, and the lovers sat in the window-seat watching the moon rise and the stars come out one by one. At nine the village curfew rang, and the guests rose up and departed.

The next morning a betrothal feast was held in Benedict's orchard. The young men and maidens danced gayly to the sound of old Michael's fiddling, and of them all no maiden was so fair as Evangeline, no youth so handsome as Gabriel. Thus was the morning passed, and soon the church-bells and the beat of drums summoned the people to the appointed meeting-place. The women were bidden to wait in the churchyard, while the men thronged into the church. The guard came marching from the English ships, and, when they had entered the sacred building, the heavy doors were fastened and the crowd waited eagerly to hear what was coming. Speaking from the steps of the altar, the Commander said: "You are summoned here to-day by his Majesty the King's command, and he has given me a painful duty to perform. The will of our monarch is that all your lands, dwellings, and cattle be forfeited to the crown, and that you yourselves shall be transported to other lands. And now I declare you my prisoners."

Loud was the clamor of sorrow and anger which uprose at these words and Basil the blacksmith shouted wildly: "Down with the tyrants of England!" In the midst of the angry tumult the door of the chancel opened and Father Felician entered the church. Ascending the steps of the altar, the good priest made a gesture to command silence and all were subdued by his noble words: "Even of our enemies let us say, 'O Father, forgive them!'" Then he calmly conducted the evening service, and never were prayers more earnestly said than on that dreadful night.

For four days the men were imprisoned in the church, while their womenfolk, sick with sorrow, waited in their homes. On the fifth day a long procession of women and children came, driving in ponderous wagons laden with their household goods, down to the seashore. Then the church doors were unbarred, and, pale with grief and imprisonment, the Acadian peasants marched to the harbor under the escort of soldiers. Evangeline was on the watch for her dear ones; to her lover she whispered words of encouragement, and strove to cheer her father, though sadly affrighted by his dejection and the way he seemed suddenly to have grown much older.

At the place of embarking the greatest confusion prevailed. Small boats plied between the shore and the ships and thus wives were torn from their husbands and mothers, too late, saw their children left behind. Half the task was not finished when night came on. Basil and Gabriel were among those who were taken to the ships, but Evangeline and her father were left standing in despair on the shore.

Fires were kindled on the beach, and Father Felician wandered from group to group, consoling and blessing the poor homeless people. As he paused where Evangeline and her father were encamped, a sudden flare filled the sky behind them. All eyes were turned in that direction, and the whole village was seen to be in flames. Overwhelmed with sorrow the priest and the maiden gazed at the scene of terror, but Benedict uttered no word, and, when at last they turned to look at him, he had fallen to the ground and lay there dead. Separated from her lover and now alone in the world, the poor girl's courage at length failed her and her grief was piteous to behold.

The next morning the old farmer received a hasty burial on the seashore, and the remainder of the exiles were carried to the ships and transported to far distant lands.


Many years had passed away since the burning of the village of Grand-Pre, and the exiles had been scattered far asunder. Among them a maiden, patient and meek in spirit, waited and wandered. Sometimes she lingered in towns, at others she passed through the country and wandered into churchyards, gazing sadly at the crosses and tombstones, but never did she remain long in the same place. It was Evangeline searching for her lover, and, though many sought to dissuade her from her quest, and urged her to listen to the wooing of her faithful suitor Baptista Leblanc, the notary's son, she only answered sadly: "I cannot, for whither my heart has gone, there follows my hand." And in all her doings she was upheld and cheered by her faithful friend, the priest Felician. Wherever she went she asked for news of Gabriel, and at last she found out that he and his father had become famous hunters, and had been met with on one of the vast prairies, but she was never able to trace his movements.

Still she journeyed onward and onward till, one May, she joined a band of Acadian exiles who were sailing in a cumbrous boat down the broad river Mississippi. They were seeking for their kinsmen who, it was rumored, had settled down as farmers in that fertile district. Day after day the exiles glided down the river, and night after night they encamped on its banks and slept by the blazing camp-fires which they kindled. One night—if only Evangeline had known it—a boat rowed by hunters and trappers, Gabriel among them, passed by close to their camp. But the exiles' boat was hidden among the willows and they themselves screened from sight by thick shrubs, so the hunters sped northward and their passing was unheeded. Only when the sound of their oars had died away, the maiden awoke and said to the priest: "Father Felician, something tells me that Gabriel is near me. Chide me not for this foolish fancy."

"Not far to the south," answered the faithful priest, "are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin, where many of our kinsfolk have settled. There in that beautiful land, which its inhabitants call the Eden of Louisiana, the bride shall surely be restored to her bridegroom."

Full of hope, the travelers continued their journey, and presently arrived at a herdsman's house which stood in a lovely garden close to the river. The owner himself, mounted on horseback, was watching his numerous herds which were grazing in the meadows around him. As he turned towards his house, he caught sight of the maiden and the priest coming toward him. With a cry of joy he sprang from his saddle and hastened towards them, and then the travelers saw that it was none other than Basil the blacksmith. You can imagine how cordial were the greetings, how numberless the questions and answers that passed between them. Only Evangeline grew silent and thoughtful when Gabriel did not appear, and at length Basil said, "If you came by way of the lakes, how is it that you did not meet my son's boat?"

"Gone, is Gabriel gone?" murmured Evangeline piteously; she could not hide her disappointment, and shed bitter tears.

"Be of good cheer, my child," returned honest Basil, "it is only to-day he went from here. He grew moody and restless ever thinking of thee, till at length he could no longer endure this quiet existence. Therefore I let him go among the Indians, hoping thus to divert his mind from his troubles. Early to-morrow thou and I will set out after him, and I doubt not but we shall overtake him and bring him back to his friends."

A sound of many voices was now heard, and the other travelers came up joyously led by Michael the fiddler, who had lived with Basil since their exile, having no other task than that of cheering his companions by his merry music. Basil invited all the travelers to sup with them, and greatly did they marvel at the former blacksmith's wealth and many possessions. When they were seated at the table, Basil told his friends of the beauty of the country and the fertility of the soil, and, when he added that land might be had for the asking, they all resolved to settle there and help to form the new Acadian colony.

On the morrow, according to his promise, Basil set out to overtake his son, and Evangeline went with him. Day after day they journeyed onward through a wild and desolate country, but could hear no tidings of the traveler. At length they arrived at the inn of a little Spanish town, where they heard that Gabriel had left that very place the previous day and had set out with his horses and guides for the prairies.

Basil and Evangeline determined not to give up their search, and, hiring some Indian guides, they followed in the direction which Gabriel had taken. One evening as they were sitting by their camp-fire, there entered an Indian woman whose face bore the marks of heavy grief. She was returning from the far distant hunting-grounds, where her husband had been cruelly murdered by a hostile tribe. Touched by her sad story, the white people offered her food and a night's shelter, which she gratefully accepted. After the evening meal was over, Evangeline and the stranger sat apart, and the maiden, in her turn, related to the other the story of her lost lover and her other misfortunes.

Early the next day the march was resumed, and as they journeyed along, the Indian woman said: "On the western slope of these mountains dwells the Black Robe, Chief of the Mission. He talks to the people of their Heavenly Father and they give heed to his teaching."

Then said Evangeline: "Let us go to the Mission, for there good tidings await us."

So they turned their steeds thither, and just as the sun was setting they reached a green meadow by the riverside. There the preacher knelt in prayer and with him a multitude of people. The travelers joined reverently in the prayers, and when the service was over, the priest came to welcome the strangers and offered them shelter and a share of his frugal meal of wheaten cakes and spring water. Afterwards they told the priest their story, and he said: "Only six days ago Gabriel sat by my side and told me this same sad tale, then he continued his journey. He has gone far to the north, but in autumn when the hunting is over he will return to the Mission."

Then Evangeline pleaded: "Let me remain with thee, for my soul is sad and afflicted." This seemed to the others a wise thing to do, so thus it was arranged. Early on the morrow Basil returned homewards and Evangeline stayed on at the Mission.

Slowly and wearily the days passed by, and Evangeline lived and worked at the Mission till autumn drew on. But still Gabriel did not come, and the maiden lived on there till the following summer. Then a rumor reached her ears that Gabriel had encamped in a far distant forest, and Evangeline took leave of her friends at the Mission and set forth again to seek her lover, but when she reached the hunter's lodge she found it deserted and fallen to ruin.

And now her weary pilgrimage began anew. Her wanderings led her through towns and villages, now she tarried a while in mission tents, now she tended the sick and wounded in the camp of a battlefield. As the years went on, her beauty faded and streaks of gray appeared in her dark hair. She was fair and young when she began her long journey, faded and old when it ended in disappointment.

At length poor Evangeline grew weary of wandering through strange places and resolved to end her days in the city founded by the great preacher, Penn. Here other of the Acadian exiles had settled, and Evangeline felt that there was something homelike in the pleasant streets of the little city and the friendly speech of the Quakers.

There for many years she dwelt as a Sister of Mercy, bringing hope and comfort to the poor and suffering ones. Then it came to pass that a terrible pestilence fell on the city and thousands perished. The poor crept away to die in the almshouse, and thither by night and day came the Sister of Mercy to tend them.

One Sabbath morning Evangeline passed through the deserted streets and entered the gates of the almshouse. On her way she paused to pluck some flowers from the garden, that the dying might be comforted by their fragrance. As she mounted the stairs she heard the chime of church-bells and the sound of distant psalm-singing, and a deep calm came over her soul, for something within her seemed to say, "At length thy trials are ended!"

Suddenly, as she was passing down the wards, she stood still and uttered a cry of anguish. On the pallet before her lay an old man with long gray hair, and, as she gazed, she saw that this was none other than her lover, Gabriel. She knelt by his bedside and the dying man opened his eyes and tried to whisper her name, but his strength was spent, and with one last look he passed away from her.

Evangeline's weary quest was over; sweetly and patiently she took up her life again and henceforth lived only for others. And now, in the little Catholic churchyard of this far-away city, side by side the lovers are sleeping.

The Falcon of Ser Federigo

Not far from the fair town of Florence lived a wondrously beautiful maiden named Monna Giovanna. Of lovers she had no lack, but the two whom she most favored were gallant Ser Federigo, and his rival, Ser Enrico.

Ser Federigo had inherited a great fortune and large estates from his father, and, anxious to win favor in the sight of his lady, he lavished his wealth in costly banquets and tournaments, never stopping to consider whether she would approve of his extravagance. So reckless was Ser Federigo that at last all his fortune was spent, and in order to obtain fresh supplies he sold his estates, reserving only one small farm for himself, and wasted all that money also.

Monna Giovanna by no means approved of her wooer's extravagance—she refused his gifts, and disdained his banquets. "A spendthrift will not make a prudent husband," thought she, and so she married the more careful Ser Enrico, and for some years lived very happily with him in a distant land.

Meanwhile Ser Federigo, become a sadder and wiser man, retired to his little farm on the outskirts of the city, taking with him his falcon, the only creature which remained true to him, for all his former friends shunned him in his poverty.

One hot summer's morning, weary from working in his plot of garden, Ser Federigo sat on a wooden bench beneath the shelter of his cottage eaves thinking dreamily of the past and of the happiness which might have been his, while the falcon by his side was dreaming also. Suddenly he started up on his perch, shook his bells, and looked eagerly at his master as if to say, "Ser Federigo, shall we not go a-hunting?" But his master's thoughts were far away, and he did not stir. Presently he looked up in amazement. Peeping through the trellis he saw a lovely child, a boy with golden tresses and large wondering eyes. Without a glance at the man, the child walked straight up to the bird and said coaxingly, "Beautiful falcon, I wish I might hold you on my wrist, or see you fly."

Ser Federigo started, for the child's voice seemed strangely familiar to him, and, laying his hand gently on the shining head, he asked, "Who is your mother, my fair boy?"

"Monna Giovanna," replied the child. "Will you let me stay a little while and play with your falcon?"

"Indeed I will, my child, but first tell me, where do you live?"

"Just beyond your garden wall," was the reply. "In the great house hidden behind those tall poplar trees."

So the boy chattered on, and Ser Federigo took him on his knee and told him stories of the noble falcon, and soon all three became close friends.

As the days went on Ser Federigo set himself to find out why it was that his lady had returned to her native land, and he discovered that Monna Giovanna had been left a widow after a few years of marriage, and that she had come with a friend and her only child to pass the summer quietly in her grand villa overlooking the Arno. Rarely, or never, did the widow lady go beyond the grounds of her villa. Clad in sable robes she paced her stately halls, or read and worked with her friend, her one delight to see her boy growing in health and strength and watch over this treasure still left to her.

The boy loved his free country life and spent the days racing up and down the terraces, chasing the screaming peacocks or climbing the garden trellises to pluck the ripe fruit. But his chief pastime was to watch the flight of a swift falcon which sometimes soared into sight above the tall poplars, and at others swooped down to earth at his master's call. The child had often wondered who the bird's master might be, and one morning he found out that the pair he sought dwelt in the little cottage-farm a short distance from his own home.

The child came several times to see the falcon. Suddenly his visits ceased, but Ser Federigo had no inkling of the reason. The widow's only child had fallen ill, and was pining away from some unknown malady. His mother would not be comforted; she saw her darling already lying dead before her distracted gaze, and no physician could give her any hope for his cure. Sitting by the invalid's bedside she cried to him, "Is there anything I can do to comfort thee, my child?"

At first the child remained silent, but when she besought him again and again to tell her if there was anything on earth she could obtain for him which might cause him to forget his suffering, he replied, "Yes, there is one thing I want. I pray you give me Ser Federigo's falcon for my own!"

The astonished mother could make no reply. Even for her darling's sake she felt she could not ask such a favor from the lover she had once treated with scorn. Besides, though she knew that any request of hers would be at once granted by him, she knew also that the falcon was renowned as the finest bird throughout the countryside, as well as being the joy and pride of his master's heart. But the boy was fretful and restless, and, fearing to thwart his whim lest his life should depend on it, the poor mother promised to go and ask for the falcon on the very next day.

"Will you promise faithfully to go, mother?" asked the boy.

"I will, indeed," replied the distracted lady, and, soothed by her words, the child fell into a refreshing sleep.

The morrow was a bright September day, and Monna Giovanna felt hope revive within her heart as she gazed on her child still peacefully sleeping. The birds were singing sweetly and the dew lay heavy on the grass as two lovely ladies, clothed in hoods and cloaks, passed through the garden-gate into the woods, where the trees had just donned their autumn dress of russet and gold. One of these ladies had her rich dark hair closely covered by her hood. Her eyes were wet with tears, but her face was only made more beautiful by its look of deep sorrow. Her companion was a young girl who walked with light steps, her hood thrown back, and her hair shining with its wealth of gold; her cheeks were tinted like the apple-blossom, and her heart full of joyous thoughts. These were Monna Giovanna and her friend, who, with thoughts intent on their errand, hastened towards the little farm.

They found Ser Federigo digging the ground like Adam of old, and when he beheld these fair ladies, his garden seemed to become a second Eden and the river, flowing by, like the stream which watered Paradise.

Beautiful as was Monna Giovanna's young companion, Ser Federigo had no eyes for anyone but his dear lady, who, at first doubtful as to how she should begin her errand, soon raised her stately head and addressed him in kindly tones.

"Ser Federigo," said she, "I and my companion come hither to see you in friendship, trusting by this means to make some amends for my unkindness to you in the past. In former days I would not so much as cross the threshold of your door; I refused your banquets and rejected your gifts. But this morning I am here, self-invited, to put your generous nature to the test, and therefore ask if we may breakfast with you beneath your vine?"

Humbly Ser Federigo made reply: "Speak not of your unkindness to me, for if there is within me any good or generous feeling it is to you I owe it, and this gracious favor you do me in seeking me here is sufficient to outweigh all my sorrows and regrets of former years."

After a little further talk had passed between them, Ser Federigo asked his guests to wait in his garden for a brief space while he went to give orders for breakfast. As he entered his cottage his thoughts dwelt regretfully on the gold and silver plate and the ruby glass which had once been his, and it vexed him sorely that his humble abode was lacking in every luxury.

Matters were even worse than the poor host had anticipated; he searched every cupboard and ransacked every shelf, but could find nothing. Then he summoned the maid and asked why it was that provisions had failed them. "The Signor forgets that he did not hunt to-day," replied the girl. "We have nothing but bread and wine in the house, and fruit from the garden."

Then suddenly the falcon shook its bells and looked knowingly at his master as much as to say, "If anything is wanted, I am here!"

"Yes, everything is wanted, my gallant bird," cried his master, and without more ado he seized hold of the poor creature and wrung its neck. Grieved as he was at being forced to sacrifice his only friend, his master had no time to mourn his untimely end. Hastily a snow-white cloth was spread on the rough table, and on it was laid a loaf of bread flanked by purple grapes and fragrant peaches; in the midst of these a flask of wine wreathed with bright autumnal flowers, and finally the falcon, stuffed with cloves and spice, was cooked and served to eke out the humble banquet.

When all was ready the lady and her companion entered the cottage, and to Ser Federigo's dazzled gaze everything seemed transformed. The little room became a stately banqueting-hall, the rustic chair on which his lady sat was transformed into a throne, and the poor falcon seemed a peacock or a bird of paradise.

When the repast was ended they rose and passed into the garden again, and then Monna Giovanna spoke in this wise to her host: "Though you are too courteous to show surprise that I come to you in this friendly manner after we have been parted so many years, I know you must wonder at my reason for doing so. You have no children, so you cannot know the anguish a mother feels when her child is lying ill, nor how eager she is to anticipate his every wish. My only child is dying, Ser Federigo, and I have come to beg of you the one thing which may save his life. It is your falcon, your only treasure, that I beseech you to give my child, though it grieves me to the heart to demand such a precious gift from your hands."

Ser Federigo listened with tears of love and pity in his eyes, then sadly answered, "Alas, dear lady, how gladly would I have granted what you ask had you but expressed this wish one short hour ago. But, thinking I could best do honor to my guests by sacrificing what was most dear to me, I slew my gallant falcon to provide you with a fitting repast."

Slowly the lady turned aside her head, grieved to think that this noble knight had slain his cherished falcon for her sake, and yet glad of this proof of his devotion. But her mind was now filled with alarm, for she must return empty-handed to her sick child; so, taking a hasty farewell of their host, the ladies sadly made their way homewards.

The mother's fears were only too well founded. Three days later Ser Federigo heard the tolling of the passing-bell from the chapel on the hill, and, as he breathed a prayer, "Alas! her child is dead," he murmured.

But happier times were in store for the bereaved lady and her faithful lover. Touched by his devotion Monna Giovanna plighted her troth with Ser Federigo, and by Christmas time the little farm was deserted, and a wedding-feast was held in the grand villa on the hill. Once more Monna Giovanna sat upon the rustic chair which had been brought from the cottage, but something had been added. On the chair-back was perched a wooden image of the gallant falcon, and round the cage Ser Federigo had caused this inscription to be carved: "All things come round to him who will but wait."

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