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“Three Things About Pippin”
“I’ll just get my material, Pearl,” Pimpernel said brightly and she turned to go into her bedroom. She had placed the new material that she had purchased in Tuckborough over the weekend on her bed. Pimpernel smiled as she thought of the lovely dress that she could make with Pearl’s help. “I have a pattern in mind.” She walked into her bedroom and when her eyes fell on the material she gave a small squeal of panic.
“What is it, Nell?” Pearl asked hurrying from the sewing room. Her younger sister sounded as if she had been injured. “Did you fall?”
“Peregrin Took, show yourself this instant!” Pimpernel shouted, her face alarmingly red.
A quick glance gave Pearl all of the information that she needed. The window to the room was open and there were muddy handprints on the sill. Muddy footprints covered the floor and actually criss-crossed the bed. The footprints also, unfortunately crossed Nell’s new material. “Peregrin!” Pearl snapped for there could be no doubt in the matter. The size of the footprints was all of the proof that was needed.
A small, rather muddy, lad of six crawled out from underneath the bed and stood facing his two older sisters with a smile on his face. “Shhh, I’m hiding from Vince,” he scowled at them as if they were the ones at fault. “She won’t never find me here in Nelly’s room.” He was making an effort to whisper but his voice was much too loud all the same.
“And why won’t she find you in here?” Pimpernel demanded in a voice filled with barely controlled rage.
“On account of you told me never to come in here after that last time when I broke your music box,” Pippin said. “You remember, don’t you?”
“I hear you!” Pervinca shouted from somewhere in the smial.
Pippin’s eyes widened and he turned to run. “Now you’ve gave me away!” he said.
In spite of her efforts at control, Pimpernel reached out a hand and grasped the small lad by an arm. “You aren’t going anywhere!” she said holding him in place while attempting to keep from getting mud on herself.
“But Nelly, Vince is angry at me,” Pippin objected.
“She isn’t the only one,” Pimpernel frowned.
“Pippin, how could you?” Pearl sighed holding up a section of the ruined cloth while looking at her little brother.
“I didn’t mean to rip her dress but she fell when I pushed her from behind,” Pippin explained. Obviously he was talking about Pervinca’s reason for being angry with him and not about the damage he’d done to Pimpernel’s new material and to her room.
Pervinca rushed into the room and nearly collided with Pimpernel. “Give him to me! I’ll teach him a lesson!” Pervinca said.
Pearl reached out and stopped Pervinca from getting her hands on their younger brother. Granted, from the appearance of Pervinca’s dress, Pippin needed to learn a lesson but as the oldest in the family, Pearl realized that it was her responsibility to keep her two younger sisters from killing the son and heir. “Easy, Pervinca,” Pearl said. “I’ll deal with this.”
“I should be the one to deal with him,” Pervinca objected. “Look at my dress!” She turned and held out the skirt of her favorite blue dress, which was torn at the waist and covered with mud. “He came up behind me and jumped on my back!”
“I was only playing,” Pippin said just now realizing that he was in a room full of rather hostile older sisters. “I wanted you to give me a pony ride the way Nelly does sometimes.”
“Where did all of this mud come from?” Pearl demanded keeping her voice level. “What have you two children been into?”
“It was Pippin’s fault!” Pervinca howled. “I was walking around the muddy patches near the barn and I would have been fine if he hadn’t jumped on me and caused me to fall!”
“And then you decided to come into my room and destroy it?” Pimpernel said. She was still holding his arm.
“I was just trying to hide from Vince until she wasn’t unhappy with me any more and I knew she wouldn’t look in here,” Pippin said his voice sounding as if he might cry at any moment.
“This is my room,” Pimpernel said sternly. “Messy little lads are not supposed to be in here for any reason.”
“Let me have him, Nell,” Pervinca suggested glaring at Pippin. “I’ll hit him for you too.”
Pippin sniffled and one fat tear rolled down his dirty cheek. “Please don’t let her, Nelly. She hits too hard. Last time she bruised my arm.”
“Someone needs to bruise your bum for you,” Pearl said sternly.
“No!” Pippin said, instinctively covering his bum with his free hand. “I’ll be good, Pearl.”
“What is going on in here?” Eglantine Took demanded. She was certain that she had a fairly good idea but with children one could always be surprised so it was best to ask.
“Don’t let Pervinca hit me, please,” Pippin wailed struggling to break Pimpernel’s hold on his arm.
“Let him go, Pimpernel,” Eglantine said softly.
“But Mother, look what he’s done to my room,” Pimpernel objected.
“Let him go,” Eglantine said firmly. “Come here, Peregrin Took,” she continued shifting her attention to her youngest child.
Pimpernel released Pippin’s arm and glared at him as he slowly moved past her and toward their Mother. He bit his lower lip and said very softly, “I didn’t mean to.”
“What is it exactly that you didn’t you mean to do this time?” Eglantine asked.
“Knock Vince down and tear her dress and then make Nelly’s room get muddy,” Pippin whispered. This time his voice was low enough to be an actual whisper. “Everyone is unhappy with me again.” He sniffled and looked up at his Mother.
“Who do you think is going to have to clean this room, Peregrin Took?” Eglantine frowned keeping her voice even.
“I don’t know,” Pippin said shrugging.
“Well, the first thing we will do is get you cleaned up,” Eglantine sighed. “There is enough mud on you to make several more disasters if we don’t act fast.”
“I think you should spank him first,” Pervinca said looking rather smug.
“I will decide what’s to be done, young miss,” Eglantine said.
“But look at this room!” Pimpernel objected.
“I see,” Eglantine said gently. “And Peregrin is going to clean this up after he has had a bath, aren’t you, Peregrin?”
“I am?” Pippin looked startled. “All this mess?” He looked around the room wide-eyed. “But I’m just little and this is too much for me, isn’t it?”
“He’ll just ruin something else,” Pimpernel growled. “I don’t want him in my room!”
“See, I’m not a’sposed to be in here, Mum,” Pippin said brightening a bit. “I can’t clean it cause I’m not allowed.”
“Now he remembers,” Pimpernel groaned.
“Peregrin, you made this mess and you will clean it up,” Eglantine said sternly.
“Mother!” Pimpernel objected.
“Under my watchful eye,” Eglantine said.
“But, Mother?” Pimpernel frowned.
“He has to learn, Darling,” Eglantine said.
“Couldn’t you teach him in some other part of the smial?” Pimpernel suggested.
Pippin looked over at the window and then down at the floor. “I don’t think I can learn this much yet, Mum,” he offered.
“I want the three of you to go into the parlor and wait for me there,” Eglantine said looking at her daughters.
“But my dress! I can’t wear this now,” Pervinca said.
“Very well. You may change and then the three of you will wait for me in the parlor,” Eglantine said after inspecting the damaged frock.
“Can I go to the parlor too?” Pippin asked looking hopeful.
“You are coming with me, Peregrin,” Eglantine said and she reached down and put a firm hand on the lad’s shoulder and began to direct him toward the hall. “You are getting a bath before you begin cleaning up the dreadful mess that you’ve made in your sister's room.”
“While I get my bath can Pearl clean it up?” Pippin suggested.
“She most certainly can't,” Eglantine said. “Pearl did not make that mess.” She gave Pippin a gentle shove and said, “Go straight to the bathing room and take off all of those muddy clothes and then sit down and wait for me. If I find that you’ve done anything else then you will clean this entire smial, understand?”
“Yes,” Pippin said walking down the hall with his head hanging down and his feet dragging. He looked like a very small, very dirty prisoner on the way to a lashing.
“Why do we have him?” Pervinca demanded loudly. “Lads are awful.”
“Now, Pervinca,” Eglantine frowned.
“He is positively hopeless, Mother,” Pimpernel said fighting back tears as she looked at her ruined material. “He spoils every single nice thing that we have!”
“He’s a little lad and he doesn’t always think about what he’s doing,” Eglantine said gently.
“He’s trouble and that’s all he is,” Pervinca said darkly. “I wish we could send him back to where ever it is that babies come from.”
Eglantine smiled slightly at this suggestion from her eleven-year-old. “Well, we can’t and even if we could, I suspect that you’d miss him if he weren’t around.”
“I wouldn’t!” Pimpernel declared clutching her material to her chest protectively. “He is dreadful.”
“I think that after you’ve settled down a bit you’ll-“ A crash broke into Eglantine’s words and all four lasses looked toward the doorway that led to the hall.
“It’s not too broke,” Pippin’s voice called out. “It’s in two parts but I think this lid comes off any how. Does it, Pearl?”
“My trinket box!” Pearl shouted. “Mother, I left it in the bathing room and now he’s broken it!”
“I did it on accident, Pearl!” Pippin called out.
“Pervinca’s right,” Pearl said sharply. “Let’s find a way to send him back.”
“I don’t wanna go back,” Pippin whined from where he stood in the doorway. He had returned from the bathing room, shirtless and holding the two pieces of Pearl’s trinket box. “I picked up the little things what fell out of it, Pearl,” he said with a sob. He reached out toward her in an effort to hand her the box.
“Keep it! You’ve ruined it anyway,” Pearl said with a quiet furry and in a tone that only an older sister can use.
Eglantine reached over and removed the box from Pippin’s hands. “Go back to the bathing room this instant, Pippin,” she said. She handed the box to Pervinca who was standing there sticking her tongue out at her brother. Pearl had turned her back. Pippin sniffled and then ran out of the room toward the bathing room.
“Now, all of you go to the parlor and I want each of you to be prepared to tell me three things that you like about your brother when I get through cleaning him up,” Eglantine said.
“Three? I don’t know even one!” Pervinca objected. “I bet you don’t even know one and you’re his Mother.”
“Then you will remain in the parlor until you can think of something,” Eglantine said and she turned and followed Pippin’s muddy footprints down the hall toward the bathing room. “I need three things from each of you.”
Pearl and Pimpernel helped Pervinca change, all three of them complaining about their little brother the entire time. At some point during their tirade they heard someone knocking on the front door to the smial. Pimpernel stepped into the hall and shouted, “Let yourself in and wait in the parlor! Someone will be there directly!”
“Nell, we do not call out invitations to strangers,” Pearl hissed.
Pimpernel shrugged. “Whoever it is will either come inside and wait or go away. Right now, I don’t want company.”
“Finish helping Pervinca change and I will go and greet our guest if we still have one,” Pearl sighed. She hurried from the room.
Upon entering the parlor Pearl caught sight of their visitor and smiled. “Frodo! It is so very nice to see you again,” Pearl said. “I’m dreadfully sorry about the welcome you just received but it has been a rather trying day all around and I’m afraid that poor Nell is in a bit of a state just now.”
Frodo smiled. “It’s quite all right, Pearl. No one was expecting me. Bilbo had business in Tuckborough and I thought I would ride out and say hello. If this is a bad time-“
“Nonsense!” Pearl said. “Do have a seat and I’ll get tea. Nell and Pervinca will be in directly. Nell is helping Pervinca change her dress.” Pearl smiled. “I’m very glad to see you and I am certain that everyone else will be pleased also.”
Pearl made the tea while Frodo greeted Pimpernel and Pervinca who entered the parlor a few minutes after Pearl. The two younger Took lasses had hardly managed to greet Frodo properly before each of them began to tell him about Pippin’s misdeeds. Frodo had to listen carefully as both sisters were speaking at once. They chattered on, interrupting each other and finishing each other’s sentences until Frodo was becoming a bit dizzy. He was grateful when Pearl returned with the tea and a large tray of cheeses, bread, and scones.
“Let cousin Frodo enjoy his tea and stop prattling on about Peregrin,” Pearl said to her sisters as she handed Frodo a cup.
“Peregrin?” Frodo looked at Pearl and sighed. “You aren’t involved in all of this as well are you Pearl?”
“The little trouble-maker broke Pearl’s trinket box!” Pervinca announced before Pearl could answer.
“How did you know that Pearl was angry too?” Pimpernel frowned.
“None of you call him Peregrin unless you are very upset with him,” Frodo smiled stirring a touch of milk into his tea. “He is always Pippin when he is in your good graces.”
“Well, I’m glad you came, Frodo,” Pervinca said ignoring Frodo’s explanation. “It would have been very dull sitting here in the parlor all afternoon without anyone for company except us.”
“Why would you spend the afternoon sitting in the parlor?” Frodo frowned. “I should think that on a lovely day like this one you would be outdoors, Pervinca.”
“I would be if Peregrin Took weren’t such a wicked little lad,” Pervinca said scowling.
“Mother sent us to the parlor,” Pimpernel said getting a scone from the tray. “She is not being at all reasonable.”
“Oh?” Frodo looked curiously at Pimpernel.
“In spite of the fact that everything that has happened today is clearly Peregrin’s fault, Mother has us waiting in the parlor for her,” Pimpernel sighed. “She is giving the little pest a bath just now. We are supposed to be thinking up the impossible.”
“Mum says we will stay here until we do so I will never get out of the parlor again,” Pervinca said biting into a piece of cheese.
“What are you supposed to be doing? Am I interrupting something?”
“No, Frodo,” Pearl said. “What we are supposed to be doing is completely impossible.”
“We have to think up three things, three whole things each, that we like about him!” Pervinca said darkly.
Frodo bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. “So she wants each of you to list three reasons why you like Pippin?”
“No, actually she says that each of us is to list three good things about Peregrin,” Pearl corrected.
“That’s the same as what I said,” Pervinca objected. “And if there were three good things about him then I might like him.”
“Then you don’t have anything good at all to say about him?” Frodo frowned.
“This is easy really,” Pimpernel smiled.
“How?” Pervinca looked surprised.
“Three things,” Pimpernel said. “First, he isn’t in here at the present and that’s good. Second, he is in trouble and he should be and so that’s very good. And third, he isn’t twins!”
Pearl smiled. “If we are doing it like that then it might be easy. Let me see,” she thought for a minute. “He has to go to bed by seven and so we don’t have to put up with him in the evenings so that good.”
“That’s one,” Pervinca said.
“He’s too little to go into town with us unless we agree to watch him so we don’t have to take him and that’s very good.”
“That’s two!” Pervinca grinned.
“Merry seems able to tolerate him well and so we might be able to send him off to Buckland and that would be lovely!” Pearl said.
“That’s three, Pearl,” Pervinca giggled. “I like the last one where he goes to Buckland.”
Frodo cleared his throat. “So, the three of you would like to be rid of him?”
“Oh, yes, that would be good,” Pervinca said taking a slice of bread from the tray.
“I’m certain that Bilbo wouldn’t mind if we took him home to Hobbiton with us,” Frodo offered. “Bilbo is very good about company and I doubt that would be a problem.”
“You’ll really take him?” Pervinca said looking thrilled at the prospect. “Cause if you do then it will be just like it used to be before Mum and Papa had him.”
“He is a great deal of trouble and I am not looking forward to having him stay with us,” Frodo said looking rather pained. “Still, we are family and it would be wrong of me not to offer to help.”
Pearl frowned slightly but did not respond.
“He likes you so I don’t think he’d fuss,” Pimpernel said. “But I don’t know if Mother will agree. She’s in a mood today.”
“I think Bilbo might be able to persuade her. He is rather good at that sort of thing,” Frodo smiled. “The three of you shouldn’t have to put up with an ill-mannered child. Perhaps while he is with us, Bilbo will be able to teach Pippin some manners.”
“It isn’t exactly that he has bad manners,” Pearl frowned refilling her teacup.
“Let us all be honest, Pearl,” Frodo smiled. “He eats jam directly from the jar with a spoon, he has been known to stand on the table, and he takes food from other folk’s plates during the meal.” Frodo made a ‘tsk, tsk’ sound and shook his head. “I don’t begin to understand why your parents would tolerate such behavior but then I don’t have any children so perhaps I shouldn’t comment.”
“Perhaps not,” Pearl said rather shortly.
“Often the proper way to deal with an unmanageable child is to be very strict,” Frodo said looking at Pimpernel. “Pippin practically ruined your room today. It is your privacy that is at issue here. It’s a matter of property. He should be made to work off the price of your material.”
“Work?” Pimpernel looked at Frodo in disbelief. “How can he possibly do that, Frodo? He’s only six.”
“Your father must have some chores that could be performed by a six-year-old lad,” Frodo said. “Pippin could gradually earn the money to pay for the material that he ruined. It might teach him the value of money and it would recompense you for your loss.”
“That material cost dearly,” Pimpernel said in a quiet voice.
“All the more reason,” Frodo said. “I’ve kept my peace about it all but frankly I’m glad that this has come out in the open. The sooner someone corrects Pippin’s behavior and deals with all of his faults the better things will be.”
“All of his faults?” Pimpernel frowned. “What faults are those?”
All three lasses were looking intently at Frodo now. He was rather uncomfortable but he continued all the same. “Well he is thoughtless. He is always asking for something or taking something or other that doesn’t belong to him. He is noisy. He sings all the time.”
“I like it when he sings,” Pervinca said. “He doesn’t always know all of the words and it’s funny when he makes them up.”
“It isn’t proper to sing a song if you don’t know the words,” Frodo objected shaking his head.
“Well, I still like it. It’s funny and some of the time I like what he makes up better than the real words,” Pervinca said.
“Bilbo will correct that problem,” Frodo said. “He is very careful about the way songs are sung. He knows all of the words to most of the songs in the Shire.”
Frodo hurried to interrupt Pervinca. “Then there is the matter of his appearance.”
“Now wait just a minute!” Pimpernel said.
“You have to realize that half of the time he is covered in mud or jam or leaves and that his hair is tangled and his face is dirty and-“
“I thought you liked Pippin,” Pimpernel said looking stunned now.
“Well, he is family,” Frodo said not committing to anything. “I will be glad that your Mother has bathed him before I see him today though. This is a new pair of trousers and I shouldn’t like to have sticky hands ruining them.”
Pearl stood now and glared at Frodo. “That wee lad adores you! He runs to greet you every time you come. He is always happy to see you and this is how you really feel about him?”
Frodo shrugged. “It’s troubling to me at times. I have nice things that I don’t enjoying seeing spoiled because your little brother cannot manage to behave himself.”
“You don’t deserve to take him home,” Pimpernel said angrily. “Pippin is cheerful and loving and very bright.”
“He’s got fine manners for a child of six,” Pearl said still glaring down at Frodo.
“He has a nice laugh too,” Pervinca said standing now also. “And I like that he doesn’t run to Mum every time I hit him.”
“He would be so very hurt if he know you felt this way,” Pearl said rage building within her. “And because he is such a clever lad it won’t take him long to realize your true feelings. Pippin is kind-hearted and trusting but he is not stupid. He is loyal to his family and to his friends which, up until now, have include his Cousin Frodo!” With that Pearl proceeded to pour the remainder of her tea onto Frodo’s trouser leg. “I think you should take your new trousers and leave!”
Frodo winced slightly. The tea wasn’t terribly hot now but it was still rather warm. He stood and faced Pearl and smiled. “So, you think he is clever and kind-hearted and trusting and loyal. Nell thinks that Pippin is cheerful, loving and very bright. And Pervinca thinks that Pippin is a very good singer, funny and that he is not one to go telling tales? Pearl, I believe that you’ve listed one item too many. You only needed three.”
All three lasses looked at him in surprise. “You did that on purpose, Frodo Baggins,” Pearl said narrowing her eyes.
“Now Pervinca won’t have to spend the entire day in the parlor,” Frodo said. “When your Mother returns from cleaning Pippin up, you will each have a list of three things that you like about Pippin.”
Pervinca, still not entirely certain what had happened and still believing Frodo to be the enemy, proceeded to kick him soundly in the shin. “You can’t take him to Bag End! He’s ours and we’re keeping him!”
“Ouch!” Frodo winced and he sat down in the chair to rub his shin. Perhaps there might have been a better way of making Pippin’s older sisters appreciate the child. In any case there might have been a less painful way.
“Pervinca!” Pearl shouted and she pulled her younger sister away. Pervinca was getting ready to deliver a second kick and Pearl was just in time. “Frodo was,” Pearl sighed. “Frodo was just reminding us how much we actually love our little brother. He didn’t mean those things that he said.”
Pervinca still looked annoyed. “He tricked us!”
“He did indeed,” Pearl smiled. “He tricked us into realizing that we might not always be pleased with the things that Pippin does, but that we do love him.”
“We do?” Pervinca looked surprised by this news.
Pimpernel handed Frodo a serviette and sighed. “You didn’t mean a word of it?”
“These are new trousers,” Frodo smiled. “That much was true. I would most likely find myself completely worn out in no time if I were to take Pippin to Bag End and keep him but I am very certain that I would enjoy myself immensely. He is a very imaginative child and Pervinca is correct. Pippin’s versions of songs are often better than the original ones.”
At that moment Eglantine appeared in the doorway leading Pippin by the hand. The lad looked extremely contrite and very clean. Pippin had been scrubbed from head to toe. His damp curls were combed neatly and there wasn’t a button out of place. Since all three of Pippin’s older sisters were standing, Pippin didn’t see Frodo. The lasses were blocking him from view. “What do you say?” Eglantine prompted Pippin.
Pippin stepped slowly forward and looked up at his sisters. “I’m sorry I spoiled your things,” Pippin recited. Then he looked at them and said, “Don’t be unhappy with me, please? I’ll try harder.”
Pimpernel bent down and held out her arms. “Come here, Pippin,” she said smiling at him.
Pippin hurried forward and launched himself at Pimpernel wrapping his arms around her neck and hugging her tightly. “I didn’t mean to mess up your room!”
“I know,” Pimpernel said kissing his curls.
Pearl knelt down too and patted Pippin’s back. “It was my own fault that the trinket box got broken. I never should have left it in the bathing room. I should have put it away,” Pearl said.
Pippin turned and smiled at her. “That’s all right, Pearl. I’m not unhappy at you.”
Pervinca sighed. “Quit spoiling him. He tore my dress.”
Pippin pulled away from Pimpernel and Pearl and walked over to Pervinca. “Will you still play with me? I didn’t mean to knock you into the mud, Vince.”
“All right,” Pervinca said. “But we have to play what I want to play.”
“That’s all right,” Pippin smiled brightly. “What are we-“
“You, my lad, are cleaning up your sister’s room first and then if you do a good job, you may play with Pervinca,” Eglantine said.
“We will have a tea party,” Pervinca said. “All of my bears will come and if you have to, you can bring Errol. Errol has to wear something nice though.”
“Can we have real biscuits?” Pippin asked looking interested.
“You may,” Eglantine smiled.
Suddenly Pippin looked up and noticed Frodo. “Frodo!” he shouted and hurried over and crawled up into Frodo lap and sat down. “When did you come? Can you stay? Do you want to have tea with Vince and Errol and me? Do you want to come watch me clean?”
Frodo laughed and hugged the child. “I might drop by for a spot of tea if you think there will be enough. It sounds as if you have quite a crowd coming as it is.”
Pippin shifted on Frodo’s lap and then looked at Pervinca. “Do we have enough tea?”
“I would be delighted for you to come to tea,” Pervinca said sounding very formal.
“Splendid,” Frodo smiled. “I accept your gracious offer and I look forward to it,”
Pippin shifted again and then looked up at Frodo and whispered rather loudly. “Do you need to go to the privy, Frodo?”
“Pippin!” Eglantine frowned. “If you need to go then you are perfectly able to go without Frodo’s help. You’re a big lad now.”
“I don’t have to go,” Pippin said. “But I think Frodo’s already too late.”
“What?” Frodo looked confused.
Pippin leaned over and whispered in that loud voice again, “You’ve wet your trousers and I think I sat in it. I won’t tell but someone will notice the back of me if I get up and then one of us will be in trouble. We can say it was me.”
All of Pippin’s sisters laughed and Frodo blushed. Frodo joined in the laughter and kissed Pippin on the cheek. “Thank you, Pippin,” Frodo said. “I didn’t wet my trousers. I spilled my tea on them.” He looked up and winked at Pearl. “Why don’t you and I go and get you started on your cleaning job while your Mother speaks with your sisters?”
Pippin climbed down from Frodo’s lap and when Frodo stood Pippin grabbed his older cousin’s hand and pulled him from the parlor. “I spill my tea too,” Pippin said. “And last night at dinner I spilt a cup of milk!” Pippin said. His effort to make Frodo feel better about the mishap with the tea was quite charming. Pippin used his loud whispering voice again to make Frodo what he must have considered a generous offer. “If you want to, you can help me clean some. I won’t tell.”
“Peregrin Took!” Eglantine said in a warning tone.
“I’m just being polite, Mum,” Pippin said. “I had to offer.”
With a sigh, Eglantine looked at her daughters. “I hope you each have a list of three things for me.”
They smiled over at her and Pearl said, “I think I actually have four. When I've finished giving you my list of good things about Pippin, if you would like I can share my list of reasons why I like Frodo Baggins but you had best sit down and get comfortable because that is a very long list.”
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