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Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

April 03, 2018 06:39PM
AN: Thanks for the comments. I am glad you are enjoying.
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Chapter 5

Each day Mrs. Bennet became more and more excited about the possibilities for Mary’s new home. At first, her attitude had been somewhat like Elizabeth Elliot’s, why not build something new? However, she had come to see the pleasure that all of the ladies took in considering how best to remake the little cottage into something more suitable. As they talked one morning, she said, “Mary, what about a parlor large enough to be used for dancing? It seems to me that the house will not be quite large enough for really fine entertaining.”

Mrs. Musgrove smiled at that idea while Mary replied, “You are absolutely correct, Mother. Mrs. Musgrove and I discussed that when we first viewed the cottage and agreed that any large groups would be hosted at the main house. Our own would be for more intimate gatherings of friends.”

Mrs. Bennet frowned, “I do not see how you could seat more than five couples in the dining room.”

“You are correct. Anything larger than that will be at Uppercross instead of the cottage.”

Mrs. Musgrove added, “Indeed, should Miss Bennet wish to host something large, I will cede my place as hostess to her. Most in our neighborhood seldom entertain more than three or four couples as a rule, so we expect the cottage dining room will be sufficient.”

“I suppose you must know best. It would definitely not work for our entertaining in Meryton. Why, we may have as many as ten couples once a month or more.”

Mrs. Musgrove answered, “I expect Miss Bennet will still enjoy our social life even with the smaller size of the gatherings.”

Mrs. Bennet frowned. “I suppose she will. Until recently, she was never very social in any case. She had no conversation and was unable to entice anyone into having a good time in her company.”

Elizabeth said, “But all that has changed. Mary now enjoys society, don’t you?”

Mary nodded, “Yes, I find it more rewarding and enjoyable than before. I am sure it will be very pleasant at Uppercoss. I have made many new acquaintances and, so far, all are delightful.”

As the conversation moved in a different direction, Elizabeth said to Jane, “Mary has grown so very much. Before we left for London, she would never have been able to stand her ground over Mother’s objections, but now, she is quite comfortable with her own opinions even when they differ so much from Mother’s. I am so proud of how she has matured.”

Jane smiled in reply. “I think that of the three of us, Mary underwent the most change with our removal to London. She was able to become more confident, and that success has led to more success. I hope school can do the same sorts of things for Kitty and Lydia.”

“I hope so too. Good company can really make a difference. It seems Mary Elliot is much more comfortable with the rest of us and much more open and friendlier than when we arrived.”

“Yes, she seemed much more reserved at first, more like Miss Elliot, but now she and our sister Mary seem to be very close friends. I think I am almost sorry that Charles and I have decided not to spend any time in London this year. It might be fun to witness some of their seasons. I depend on you to write very descriptive letters of everything for me.”

“I know that you want to complete all the major changes at Ambleside as soon as you possibly can. Perhaps you can watch Kitty and Lydia when their turn comes. I will do my best to keep you apprised of all that happens.”

Caroline, sitting at the other side of Jane, added, “I will too. We will greatly miss you, Jane, this winter, so I expect Louisa and I will do a lot of writing as well”

Jane smiled, “Thank you, Caroline. I will want to hear all about your thoughts on the presentation as well as everyone’s season.”

Mrs. Findlay was sitting with Mrs. Musgrove on the sofa that morning. She looked at the ladies industriously working on the garments for the unfortunates and said, “You know, your shooting party was really a bit of luck for that unfortunate family in the village. So many of us here spending a good part of the morning sewing will accomplish a great deal in a fortnight.”

Mrs. Musgrove smiled as she replied, “Indeed we will. It is wonderful how good-hearted Miss Bennet’s extended family is. They welcomed us warmly at Mrs. Wentworth’s marriage last winter and have embraced us as family since the betrothal between Miss Bennet and Charles. You must know it is not always the case that extended family enjoys time together.”

Mrs. Findlay answered, “Very true. Since my family is back in Sweden, that was not an option for Mr. Findlay and me. Rupert’s older sister married a Scot and lives up in the highlands. She loves it there and has not returned south since her marriage. She has no plans to ever leave again. I have visited once and will do so again, but for now, it is simply letters. At least she is a good correspondent. I am pleased that Caroline treats me as a loved friend or mother. I might have had to relocate to Scotland had that not been the case. Mrs. Hurst is also a neighbor, so we can share a great deal of family time together. I truly enjoy it.”

“Is that why you are sponsoring them?”

“In part. Of course, I would want my grandchildren to have access to the upper ranks that are closed if one has not been presented. But more than that, I truly like both women and want to enjoy them in the society to which I belong. The presentation will give them entrée to that society. They may choose to participate as much or as little as they want, but at least they will have the choice. I understand Miss Bennet has talked to you of possibly doing the same for your daughters.”

Mrs. Musgrove nodded, “She has indeed. It would be a large step up for our girls. We are essentially country squires, nothing near as fine as you. Indeed, sometimes I feel we are in rarified air. It would all open many doors for Henrietta and Louisa. Miss Darcy and the other Bennets will be coming out at the same time, so I expect that year or two will be very eventful for our families.”

By the end of the fortnight, plans were well underway for upgrading the cottage to a home Charles and Mary Musgrove would be proud to possess. Construction would begin after the end of the shooting party and continue as long as the weather was fair enough. They were certain it would be complete before the wedding next June.

Musgrove had also shown Mary the school for the tenants where she had lavished praise on those willing to work so hard for new opportunities. Mr. Browning had assumed responsibility when Mr. Wentworth had relocated. He appreciated the opportunity to help these men become literate and capable of finding employment again.

Mr. Dickinson was impressed by the actions of the Musgroves with their school and considered that he might want to suggest it to others of his constituents who had veterans on their estates. He liked seeing such a practical application of what was so often preached in the pulpit but ignored in practice. He said as much to Lady Russell at dinner on the final day.

“It is so reassuring to see such a practical application of reason and Christian charity. I predict good things will come to both the students and the Musgroves.”

Lady Russell smiled. “I agree. While the little things we do provide some relief, this will make a major change in these men’s lives and in their families. I think overseeing it has expanded young Mr. Musgrove’s vision as well. I expect he will make a great deal of difference in the future now that he knows its satisfaction.”

Dickinson agreed. “Indeed. He and I have had some very searching discussions about conditions generally and here in Somerset specifically. I expect to see a great deal of him when he comes to town to escort Miss Bennet this winter. She seems to have really opened his eyes to the possibilities of practical applications of charity.”

“I think she will be instrumental in making him something above the ordinary. He had been drifting along since leaving school, but since meeting her, he is always busy at some project. I have always thought well of him and am very glad to see this growth.”

As everyone was preparing to return home the next morning, an express arrived at Kellynch from Lady Stevenson and at Uppercross from Mrs. Gardiner. Sir James had finally succumbed to his various ailments. Lady Stevenson notified the Elliots of the funeral arrangements. Mrs. Gardiner invited those of their friends at the shooting party who were able and interested to join her at the funeral at South Park the following week. Lady Stevenson had included a separate message to Mary Elliot with the express to Kellynch.

Dear Mary,

This is not entirely unexpected. Your grandfather has not been well for many years although he had a better winter than in many years. That might have something to do with the stimulation of helping all those young ladies. At the end of the spring, he began to decline again. His illness was why we could not attend the Darcy wedding. It is probably a blessed release for him. At least he no longer suffers.

If you could find a way to join us at South Park for the funeral, I would like to invite you to return to London with me now rather than coming later. Although I will not be terribly active socially, Madeline will be and would be happy to include you. It will allow you to meet many people before the season begins, just as Mary Bennet did at the end of the season this past spring. I would enjoy the company as I get accustomed to the loss of your grandfather.

I have enjoyed your letter about the shooting party. It was highly entertaining. You might have a gift for words. I think you will enjoy London, even with me in mourning, more than you would Kellynch once everyone leaves.

Cordially,

Grandmother

While Sir Walter debated whether or not to attend, Mary went to Uppercross to share the news with the others. She had already made her decision to join her grandmother if she could.

Since all but Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and the Musgroves had been regular guests at the Stevenson Sunday family dinners, they all wanted to pay their respects. Mrs. Bennet had a massive attack of nerves and had to take to her bed for an hour. Once she was able, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet would return to Longbourn while the others went on to Gloucestershire. As the Darcys planned to travel through Hertfordshire on their way home, they would bring Mary Bennet with them. The Bingleys were happy to include Mary Elliot on the journey to South Park if her father chose not to attend. She wanted to be sure she had a conveyance. They would plan to prepare the next day and leave the day after that.

At Kellynch, Sir Walter could not decide whether or not to go to South Park. Elizabeth was inclined to stay home, but Mary surprised them with her suggestion that they should attend. “He was the father of our mother. Should Father choose not to go, it would put Kellynch in a very poor light. Surely you do not want others to think less of you, either of you?”

Elizabeth asked, “Whatever can you mean?”

“It would be highly disrespectful not to be present with the family at his passing. While you and I cannot attend the funeral, Father certainly can. Think of how others will perceive us if we cannot be bothered to say farewell to our grandfather. It cannot improve our situation and standing.”

Sir Walter said, “You may be correct. Yes, I suppose we must make an appearance. At least we do not need to go into full mourning. Black is not the most flattering with our coloring.” He was referring to himself and Elizabeth. He really had no idea if it would look well on Mary as she was much darker.

Mary did not have appropriate dress, but the housekeeper was able to find something that had belonged to Lady Elliot that could be quickly altered to be appropriate for Mary. The maids and Mary were able to create two new dresses for her to wear. For the rest of the time, she would wear darker clothes with a black armband. If she were to stay with her grandmother, they could deal with the rest of her wardrobe then. Mary packed her things into trunks so that they could easily be sent on to London if she should remain with her grandmother.

Mary paid a visit to Lady Russell to tell her of the invitation from her grandmother. “I know I had promised to spend the time with you, but I hope you can understand why remaining with Grandmother might be preferable to being home.”

Sadly Lady Russell agreed, “Yes, I can. You must write. I am sorry for the loss of your grandfather.”

“Thank you. I am sorry as well because this was to be my opportunity to get acquainted with him. At least Grandmother wants me with her.”

“She is an excellent woman. Well, travel safely. I will miss you.”

“And I you.”

As the carriages conveyed the various parties to South Park, the Findlays had a serious discussion. Findlay was considering making a major change in his life.

Findlay said, “The paper today indicated that there is to be a by-election in Sussex. The Honorable Mr. Wyndham, our MP has died and must be replaced. I had been thinking of becoming more involved after our foray into government in Sweden and want your opinions before I decide if I should try to earn the seat. I enjoyed many discussions about Parliament with Mr. Dickinson while we were in the field. I think I would enjoy the challenge and opportunity.”

Caroline asked, “You would like to become a Member of Parliament?”

“Yes, I think I would. I think there is so much that I could do. I have been active in local politics for many years.”

Mrs. Findlay smiled. “I think it would suit you well, and of course, you have all the contacts among the landowners for support. You know, Caroline, it give you an opportunity to attend the season every year and become a society hostess. I have friends who have done that and enjoyed their contribution.”

Caroline asked, “I have no idea about what would even be involved.”

Findlay asked, “Are you opposed? It was certainly not what you signed up for when you married me. You expected the estate, not politics.”

“Not opposed at all. However, I know that I will need help to know what I can do.”

Mrs. Findlay said, “We can take care of that.”

Findlay said, “The by-election is next month. If you support this decision, I will send off to the party leaders to ask for their support. If they agree, we will need to go there directly after the funeral to campaign. At least I am already well known to all of them and have a number of influential friends.”

They spent the entire drive that day forming plans and discussing what involvement in Parliament would entail. Caroline thought the social aspects of it would be quite fun. She loved to be a hostess and would have ample opportunity should it come to pass. Once they stopped for the night, he penned a letter to those whose help and support he would need. He asked that responses either be sent to South Park or await him at the estate where he would be returning shortly.

While Findlay wrote his letters, Caroline informed the rest of the party of Findlay’s plans to stand for parliament. Friends and family offered what support they could for Findlay’s new vocation. Sir Walter and Elizabeth had supped alone and did not partake of the news although Mary did. She offered her best wishes. Over food, they speculated about what such political action might involve.

Chapter 6

Finally, the group arrived at South Park. They found that Lady Stevenson and the Gardiners had arrived only that morning. The rest of the family had arrived the previous day. After changing, they all met in the parlor and offered their condolences.
Matilda, the new Lady Stevenson, was introduced to everyone. She had not seen any of the Bennets for many years. She was gracious in welcoming them to South Park. Sir Michael was attending to details and would join them shortly.

While they enjoyed a cup of tea, Mary Elliot went to her grandmother and said, “I am so sorry that I will never really get to know Grandfather. I had really been looking forward to that. Although I haven’t said anything to Father, I would like to accept your offer. I think we can be good company for each other.”

“Thank you, my dear. I appreciate it.”

“You are most welcome.”

The rest of the family joined them with introductions for those not previously acquainted. Sir James had had a modestly large family. Sir Michael’s brother Hugh and sister Susan were first. Sir Michael then introduced his son Percy and Percy’s wife Adelaide. Hugh introduced his son James and James’ wife Mary whom most of the party had met the previous year. Susan introduced her husband William Stanson, her sons William and Charles with their respective wives Ethel and Cora.

When Sir Michael joined them, he gathered the men to see who would be pallbearers. They decided that all would be of the younger generation: grandsons Percy, James, William and Charles along with Darcy and Bingley. He was grateful to have these strong young men shoulder the burden.

Darcy said, “It would be our honor to assist. Sir James became quite a good friend this past year.”

Bingley added, “His questions and support truly helped me to be a better husband to Jane.”

Percy said, “I am glad there is one last service we can provide grandfather. He may not have been here much these past few years, but he was always good to us all.”

While the men offered condolences and looked grave, the women were more open in showing their grief. There were many red eyes, occasional open weeping, while they shared reminiscences of times together as a family. As the others had not met those joining through the Bennet influence, the wonderful Sunday dinners of the previous season were recounted for all present.

Susan summed up the reaction. “It is just like Father, and Mother too, to decide that you are all family. I am sorry we could not be there last year to welcome you as they did. Thank you for joining us in saying goodbye to Father.”

Bingley spoke for all of them when he replied, “We were honored that he took us into his life and treated us as family. He certainly looked after Mrs. Bingley as if she were his granddaughter and not just a distant relative when he interviewed me. We are sorry that we are meeting the rest of you on such an occasion.”

Sir Walter looked somewhat confused at this. While he had encountered some of these young people at the Stevenson’s and other events as well as the shooting party, he really could not understand their coming to pay their respects. He himself felt no loss and was there only because of the arguments that Mary had put forth. Why would they bother to come to bid farewell to someone who was so new an acquaintance?

Elizabeth Elliot paid no attention to the chatter around her. Why had Father agreed with Mary that it would reflect poorly on them not to join with the family? She had never felt any particular regard for Grandfather in life, why should she pretend at his death? It was so dull. She should just have stayed at home where she would have been far more comfortable.

Mary Elliot was pleased at this opportunity to become reacquainted with her cousins. She had not seen them since the passing of her mother, and all the spouses of her cousins were new to her. She found all of them to be engaging and interesting. Many would be in town this year so they could continue the new-found acquaintance. They found Mary interesting and friendly in return. A few wondered how she could be related to Elizabeth who barely took the time to recognize anyone else’s existence.

Mary sat with Ethel and Cora after all the introductions. “Please, you must tell me how you met my cousins. I have not seen them in many years and was not really in touch.”

Ethel smiled, “Of course, we would be pleased. We met them in town, of course. In fact, it was your grandfather who introduced me to William. Cora has been my closest friend since our early years, so it was I who introduced her to Charles.”

Cora added, “We four seemed to go everywhere together. When your cousins asked for our hands, within hours of one another, it was quite natural for us to decide to have a double ceremony.”

Mary sighed, “Well, that is certainly romantic. You must tell me all about it.” They did for perhaps the next hour.

The boys recalled the Bennets from long-ago family activities and welcomed the renewed acquaintance. William said to Jane, “Mrs. Bingley, it seems so long ago that we were small and teased you so unmercifully. However, it appears you are as calm and serene now as you were then.”

Jane smiled as Elizabeth answered, “You are quite perceptive, William. Jane is the sweetest person I have ever met and was even in those days.”

Charles Stanson chuckled. “It seems we were always able to get you upset about something while we never could Jane.”

Elizabeth smiled in return. “Yes, and it is still true today.”

Darcy added, “It is one of the things I enjoy about Mrs. Darcy. She does not hide behind a false front but is willing to share her true opinions and feelings. It is so much nicer than so much of the artifice in fashion these days.”

Adelaide, who had been listening to this, said to Elizabeth, “How intriguing. I would love to become better acquainted, Mrs. Darcy. I love discussions that do not hide behind artifice.”

Elizabeth smiled, “Very well. Shall we leave the men to their own discussions?”

At Adelaide’s nod, she and Elizabeth joined arms and moved to empty seats at a sofa. They had a lively conversation becoming better acquainted. They found one another very similar.

Elizabeth asked, “Are you planning to come to town this upcoming season?”

Adelaide frowned slightly as she shook her head. “I am afraid we cannot this year. Sir Michael has asked Percy to help with all the duties resulting from the passing of Sir James. I shall by sorry to miss it.”

“Then, we must become regular correspondents. I expect we will be in town together at some point in the future.”

Adelaide smiled. “Excellent. Yes, we try to come for a month or so most springs.”

“I prefer the country, but I already know that in two years, we expect to bringing out a number of our sisters, so you must plan to come that year, please?”

“I will put it in my calendar.”

At dinner that evening, the tone was somewhat subdued. While Sir James was often the subject, some conversations were on more common subjects. Susan Stanson and Hurst spent one entire course discussing the benefits of a fine ragout. They enjoyed many similar views about food.

Mary Elliot took the opportunity to become better acquainted with her cousin Percy. “How did you meet Mrs. Stevenson? Did you go to London for a season as I am?”

“Yes, I did, although I had met Adelaide at a shooting party the previous autumn. Her brother and one of my friends are close friends.”

“How nice. Where do you and Mrs. Stevenson live?” Mary was doing her best to become better acquainted and found she was actually interested in the answers. Elizabeth Elliot sat at the other side of Percy and had very little to say to him.

Percy was struck by the difference between the two sisters. Eventually, he asked Mary, “Do you not have another sister, Anne? I seem to remember her. She was always so kind to me.”

“Yes, we do. She married last year and is now Mrs. Wentworth. She is at sea with her husband who is a captain in the navy. They are currently in the West Indies. They have been gone some six months or so.”

“She has certainly ventured far from Kellynch.”

“She has. Her life has changed a great deal. Her letters indicated that she is very happy with the changes.”

When he asked Elizabeth her thoughts about Anne’s new life, she replied, “I am sure it suits her very well. However, I do not see the attraction to a tiny cabin in a boat with no society at all. I have never understood my sister and do so even less with this choice. She could have remained comfortable at Kellynch and instead has chosen the discomfort of navy life.”

Percy said, “I see. Perhaps the attraction is Captain Wentworth and he is worth the cost of the discomfort.”

Elizabeth Elliot said, “Apparently so. It is something I cannot understand in the least.”

Elizabeth Darcy was seated by Hugh Stevenson whom she had met the previous winter. He said, “You seem to be very happy as Mrs. Darcy. I congratulate you.”

“Thank you. When we last met, I had no idea of Mr. Darcy’s admiration and had expected to have a second season to continue to search for an attachment.”

“So what happened to change that?” Elizabeth explained all that had happened during the summer including her wedding and Mary’s betrothal.

He asked, “Will you be coming to town again then this upcoming season?”

“Yes. Mr. Darcy and I will host Mr. Musgrove so that he may escort my sister Mary. We will not be there for the entire season, but expect to have an enjoyable couple of months.”

“So both Miss Bennet and Mary Elliot will be coming out?”

“Yes. Also, Mrs. Hurst and Mrs. Findlay will also be presented. Mrs. Findlay senior is to sponsor them. Mr. Darcy’s cousin is also to be presented, so just as last year, there will be a fine group of us helping our family and friends to enjoy the best that London has to offer.”

“I expect we will see you regularly at Mother’s again, then.”

“I look forward to it. Those were lovely afternoons last year.”

Only Sir Walter and Elizabeth did not find the company congenial. Everyone else found their dinner companions interesting and entertaining.
The funeral was solemn and well attended as Sir James had been very popular in the neighborhood. Back at the house afterwards, neighbors offered their condolences and reminisced with the family as they partook of a large buffet of offerings, many of which those same neighbors had contributed.

At the earliest opportunity, Sir Walter was ready to take his leave. Elizabeth agreed and sought out Mary to collect her. Mary’s reply surprised her sister. “I have decided to remain with Grandmother at her invitation. I will see you both again when you come to town in March. This will allow me to get a head start on my season. I am sure the two of you will be very busy and not miss me.”

“Well, if you are sure.”

“I am. I am going to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Very well.” Elizabeth shook her head at such a choice and informed their father.

He was also unable to really understand but did not care enough to pursue the matter. He moved over to Mary and asked, “You are certain?”

“Of course. It will give me an opportunity to meet people before the season and free you from the need to get me to town before the presentation.”

“Oh, yes. That is very thoughtful of you. Well, we shall see you in March, then.”

“Yes. I shall write to you, of course. My trunks are all packed. Perhaps you could have them forwarded to her house in town?”

“Yes, I can probably manage that.”

He nodded and turned to say farewell to Matilda and Sir Michael. Once out the door, he said to Elizabeth, “Extraordinary that your sister would choose to stay with her grandmother. As she said, at least I do not have to find a way to get her to town prior to her presentation. I am sure this will be much more convenient for us.”

“Since she has been away at school these past many years, it will not be much change at home.”

Mary Bennet noticed the Elliots leaving Mary behind and went over to her. “Is all well?”

Mary Elliot smiled, “Yes, it is. I will be returning to town with Grandmother at her invitation. I imagine it will be much more pleasant than at Kellynch. She and Aunt Madeline will be able to introduce me to society before the season, much as you got started at the end last year. I suspect they will also help me with some of the advice you and your sisters received that is sadly lacking at home.”

“You must write and tell me about it. I will be going home for the rest of autumn when we leave here. The Bingleys and Darcys will visit Hertfordshire to return me to Longbourn and allow Mother to show off her newly married daughters. I had my turn when I returned from Derbyshire. I will admit that Mother’s nerves seem to have become even worse since the wedding. I believe she is now regularly taking a tonic to try to keep them in check. I guess she cannot handle quite so much excitement.”

“She did seem a little excitable at Uppercross but nothing excessive.”

Mary Bennet changed the subject. “Are you enjoying all of your cousins?”

“Oh yes. I have not seen them in such a long time. I do not really understand why Father never wants to see the extended family. I suppose they are not of high enough rank. That seems to be his deciding factor in who to pursue as acquaintances.”

“He is not alone in that. There are many who subscribe to that philosophy. To me, that seems to be far too limiting. I hope you find that the more extensive acquaintance enriches your life. It certainly has for me.”

Mary Elliot made an effort to learn about the interests, family life, and pursuits of each of her cousins. She was surprised at how varied they were. Elizabeth always seemed to be bored by the interests of others, yet there were so many things to learn from them. Lady Russell was correct that this was a better way to get attention. Interest seemed to be reciprocated.

Elizabeth Darcy came to sit by Mary Elliot. “You are not going with the others?”

“No. I am going to stay with Grandmother. She thought I might get an early start on meeting the ton and becoming accustomed to London society and keep her company at the same time. It is very kind of her to think of me.”

“I am sure she will make you feel quite welcome. In turn, I imagine your company will help her as she adjusts to her loss. I know Mary appreciated the early start at the end of last season, and I am sure you will too.”

Most of the family remained for another day or so. However, the Findlays, Bingleys, and Darcys, along with Mary Bennet, said their farewells the next day. If Findlay were to stand for parliament, he needed to get started. The others needed to complete the quick visit to Hertfordshire so that Elizabeth could get home to finalize the preparations for their harvest ball.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

ShannaGApril 03, 2018 06:39PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

BrigidApril 03, 2018 08:15PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

ShannaGApril 03, 2018 08:46PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

BrigidApril 03, 2018 11:57PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 5 and 6

ShannaGApril 04, 2018 02:42AM



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