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    Introduction

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    Chapter 1
    The chronicles of the Sassanians, ancient kings of Persia, who
    extended their empire into the Indies, over all the adjacent
    islands, and a great way beyond the Ganges, as far as China,
    acquaint us, that there was formerly a king of that potent
    family, who was regarded as the most excellent prince of his
    time. He was as much beloved by his subjects for his wisdom and
    prudence, as he was dreaded by his neighbours, on account of his
    velour, and well-disciplined troops. He had two sons; the elder
    Shier-ear, the worthy heir of his father, and endowed with all
    his virtues; the younger Shaw-zummaun, a prince of equal merit.

    After a long and glorious reign, this king died; and Shier-ear
    mounted his throne. Shaw-zummaun, being excluded from all share
    in the government by the laws of the empire, and obliged to live
    a private life, was so far from envying the happiness of his
    brother, that he made it his whole business to please him, and in
    this succeeded without much difficulty. Shier-ear, who had
    naturally a great affection the prince his brother, gave him the
    kingdom of Great Tartary. Shaw-zummaun went immediately and took
    possession of it, and fixed the seat of his government at
    Samarcand, the metropolis of the country.

    After they had been separated ten years, Shier-ear, being very
    desirous of seeing his brother, resolved to send an ambassador to
    invite him to his court. He made choice of his prime vizier for
    the embassy, and sent him to Tartary, with a retinue answerable
    to his dignity. The vizier proceeded with all possible expedition
    to Samarcand. When he came near the city, Shaw-zummaun was
    informed of his approach, and went to meet him attended by the
    principal lords of his court, who, to shew the greater honour to
    the sultan's minister, appeared in magnificent apparel. The king
    of Tartary received the ambassador with the greatest
    demonstrations of joy; and immediately asked him concerning the
    welfare of the sultan his brother. The vizier having acquainted
    him that he was in health, informed him of the purpose of his
    embassy. Shaw-zummaun was much affected, and answered: "Sage
    vizier, the sultan my brother does me too much honour; nothing
    could be more agreeable to me, for I as ardently long to see him
    as he does to see me. Time has not diminished my friendship more
    than his. My kingdom is in peace, and I want no more than ten
    days to get myself ready to return with you. There is therefore
    no necessity for your entering the city for so short a period. I
    pray you to pitch your tents here, and I will order everything
    necessary to be provided for yourself and your attendants." The
    vizier readily complied; and as soon as the king returned to the
    city, he sent him a prodigious quantity of provisions of all
    sorts, with presents of great value.

    In the meanwhile, Shaw-zummaun prepared for his journey, gave
    orders about his most important affairs, appointed a council to
    govern in his absence, and named a minister, of whose wisdom he
    had sufficient experience, and in whom he had entire confidence,
    to be their president. At the end of ten days, his equipage being
    ready, he took leave of the queen his wife, and went out of town
    in the evening with his retinue. He pitched his royal pavilion
    near the vizier's tent, and conversed with him till midnight.
    Wishing once more to see the queen, whom he ardently loved, he
    returned alone to his palace, and went directly to her majesty's
    apartments. But she, not expecting his return, had taken one of
    the meanest officers of her household to her bed.

    The king entered without noise, and pleased himself to think how
    he should surprise his wife who he thought loved him with
    reciprocal tenderness. But how great was his astonishment, when,
    by the light of the flambeau, he beheld a man in her arms! He
    stood immovable for some time, not knowing how to believe his own
    eyes. But finding there was no room for doubt, "How!" said he to
    himself, "I am scarcely out of my palace, and but just under the
    walls of Samarcand, and dare they put such an outrage upon me?
    Perfidious wretches! your crime shall not go unpunished. As a
    king, I am bound to punish wickedness committed in my dominions;
    and as an enraged husband, I must sacrifice you to my just
    resentment." The unfortunate prince, giving way to his rage, then
    drew his cimeter, and approaching the bed killed them both with
    one blow, their sleep into death; and afterwards taking them up,
    he threw them out of a window into the ditch that surrounded the
    palace.

    Having thus avenged himself, he returned to his pavilion without
    saying one word of what had happened, gave orders that the tents
    should be struck, and everything made ready for his journey. All
    was speedily prepared, and before day he began his march, with
    kettle-drums and other instruments of music, that filled everyone
    with joy, excepting the king; he was so much afflicted by the
    disloyalty of his wife, that he was seized with extreme
    melancholy, which preyed upon his spirits during the whole of his
    journey.

    When he drew near the capital of the Indies, the sultan Shier-ear
    and all his court came out to meet him. The princes were
    overjoyed to see one another, and having alighted, after mutual
    embraces and other marks of affection and respect, remounted, and
    entered the city, amidst the acclamations of the people. The
    sultan conducted his brother to the palace provided for him,
    which had a communication with his own by a garden. It was so
    much the more magnificent as it was set apart as a banqueting-
    house for public entertainments, and other diversions of the
    court, and its splendour had been lately augmented by new
    furniture.

    Shier-ear immediately left the king of Tartary, that he might
    give him time to bathe, and to change his apparel. As soon as he
    had done, he returned to him again, and they sat down together on
    a sofa or alcove. The courtiers out of respect kept at a
    distance, and the two princes entertained one another suitably to
    their friendship, their consanguinity, and their long separation.
    The time of supper being come, they ate together, after which
    they renewed their conversation, which continued till Shier-ear,
    perceiving that it was very late, left his brother to repose.

    The unfortunate Shaw-zummaun retired to bed. Though the
    conversation of his brother had suspended his grief for some
    time, it returned again with increased violence; so that, instead
    of taking his necessary rest, he tormented himself with the
    bitterest reflections. All the circumstances of his wife's
    disloyalty presented themselves afresh to his imagination, in so
    lively a manner, that he was like one distracted. being able to
    sleep, he arose, and abandoned himself to the most afflicting
    thoughts, which made such an impression upon his countenance, as
    it was impossible for the sultan not to observe. "What," said he,
    "can be the matter with the king of Tartary that he is so
    melancholy? Has he any cause to complain of his reception? No,
    surely; I have received him as a brother whom I love, so that I
    can charge myself with no omission in that respect. Perhaps it
    grieves him to be at such a distance from his dominions, or from
    the queen his wife? If that be the case, I must forthwith give
    him the presents I designed for him, that he may return to
    Samarcand." Accordingly the next day Shier-ear sent him part of
    those presents, being the greatest rarities and the richest
    things that the Indies could afford. At the same time he
    endeavoured to divert his brother every day by new objects of
    pleasure, and the most splendid entertainments. But these,
    instead of affording him ease, only increased his sorrow.

    One day, Shier-ear having appointed a great hunting-match, about
    two days journey from his capital, in a place that abounded with
    deer, Shaw-zummaun besought him to excuse his attendance, for his
    health would not allow him to bear him company. The sultan,
    unwilling to put any constraint upon him, left him at his
    liberty, and went a-hunting with his nobles. The king of Tartary
    being thus left alone, shut himself up in his apartment, and sat
    down at a window that looked into the garden. That delicious
    place, and the sweet harmony of an infinite number of birds,
    which chose it for their retreat, must certainly have diverted
    him, had he been capable of taking pleasure in anything; but
    being perpetually tormented with the fatal remembrance of his
    queen's infamous conduct, his eyes were not so much fixed upon
    the garden, as lifted up to heaven to bewail his misfortune.

    While he was thus absorbed in grief, a circumstance occurred
    which attracted the whole of his attention. A secret gate of the
    sultan's palace suddenly opened, and there came out of it twenty
    women, in the midst of whom walked the sultaness, who was easily
    distinguished from the rest by her majestic air. This princess
    thinking that the king of Tartary was gone a-hunting with his
    brother the sultan, came with her retinue near the windows of his
    apartment. For the prince had so placed himself that he could see
    all that passed in the garden without being perceived himself. He
    observed, that the persons who accompanied the sultaness threw
    off their veils and long robes, that they might be more at their
    ease, but he was greatly surprised to find that ten of them were
    black men, and that each of these took his mistress. The
    sultaness, on her part, was not long without her gallant. She
    clapped her hands, and called "Masoud, Masoud," and immediately a
    black descended from a tree, and ran towards her with great
    speed.

    Modesty will not allow, nor is it necessary, to relate what
    passed between the blacks and the ladies. It is sufficient to
    say, that Shaw-zummaun saw enough to convince him, that his
    brother was as much to be pitied as himself. This amorous company
    continued together till midnight, and having bathed together in a
    great piece of water, which was one of the chief ornaments of the
    garden, they dressed themselves, and re-entered the palace by the
    secret door, all except Masoud, who climbed up his tree, and got
    over the garden wall as he had come in.

    These things having passed in the king of Tartary's sight, filled
    him with a multitude of reflections. "How little reason had I,"
    said he, "to think that none was so unfortunate as myself? It is
    surely the unavoidable fate of all husbands, since even the
    sultan my brother, who is sovereign of so-many dominions, and the
    greatest prince of the earth, could not escape. Such being the
    case, what a fool am I to kill myself with grief? I am resolved
    that the remembrance of a misfortune so common shall never more
    disturb my peace."

    From that moment he forbore afflicting himself. He called for his
    supper, ate with a better appetite than he had done since his
    leaving Samarcand, and listened with some degree of pleasure to
    the agreeable concert of vocal and instrumental music that was
    appointed to entertain him while at table.

    He continued after this very cheerful; and when he was informed
    that the sultan was returning, went to meet him, and paid him his
    compliments with great gaiety. Shier-ear at first took no notice
    of this alteration. He politely expostulated with him for not
    bearing him company, and without giving him time to reply,
    entertained him with an account of the great number of deer and
    other game they had killed, and the pleasure he had received in
    the chase. Shaw-zummaun heard him with attention; and being now
    relieved from the melancholy which had before depressed his
    spirits, and clouded his talents, took up the conversation in his
    turn, and spoke a thousand agreeable and pleasant things to the
    sultan.

    Shier-ear, who expected to have found him in the same state as he
    had left him, was overjoyed to see him so cheerful: "Dear
    brother," said he, "I return thanks to heaven for the happy
    change it has wrought in you during my absence. I am indeed
    extremely rejoiced. But I have a request to make to you, and
    conjure you not to deny me."I can refuse you nothing," replied
    the king of Tartary; "you may command Shaw-zummaun as you please:
    speak, I am impatient to know what you desire of me." "Ever since
    you came to my court," resumed Shier-ear, "I have found you
    immersed in a deep melancholy, and I have in vain attempted to
    remove it by different diversions. I imagined it might be
    occasioned by your distance from your dominions, or that love
    might have a great share in it; and that the queen of Samarcand,
    who, no doubt, is an accomplished beauty, might be the cause. I
    do not know whether I am mistaken in my conjecture; but I must
    own, that it was for this very reason I would not importune you
    upon the subject, for fear of making you uneasy. But without
    myself contributing anything towards effecting the change, I find
    on my return that your mind is entirely delivered from the black
    vapour which disturbed it. Pray do me the favour to tell me why
    you were so melancholy, and wherefore you are no longer so."

    The king of Tartary continued for some time as if he had been
    meditating and contriving what he should answer; but at last
    replied, "You are my sultan and master; but excuse me, I beseech
    you, from answering your question." "No, dear brother," said the
    sultan, "you must answer me, I will take no denial." Shaw-
    zummaun, not being able to withstand these pressing entreaties,
    replied, "Well then, brother, I will satisfy you, since you
    command me ;" and having told him the story of the queen of
    Samarcand's treachery "This," said he, "was the cause of my
    grief; judge whether I had not sufficient reason for my
    depression."

    "O! my brother," said the sultan, (in a tone which shewed what
    interest he took in the king of Tartary's affliction), "what a
    horrible event do you tell me! I commend you for punishing the
    traitors who offered you such an outrage. None can blame you for
    what you have done. It was just; and for my part, had the case
    been mine, 1 should scarcely have been so moderate. I could not
    have satisfied myself with the life of one woman; I should have
    sacrificed a thousand to my fury. I now cease to wonder at your
    melancholy. The cause was too afflicting and too mortifying not
    to overwhelm you. O heaven! what a strange adventure! Nor do I
    believe the like ever befell any man but yourself. But I must
    bless God, who has comforted you; and since I doubt not but your
    consolation is well-grounded, be so good as to inform me what it
    is, and conceal nothing from me." Shaw-zummaun was not so easily
    prevailed upon in this point as he had been in the other, on his
    brother's account. But being obliged to yield to his pressing
    instances, answered, "I must obey you then, since your command is
    absolute, yet I am afraid that my obedience will occasion your
    trouble to be greater than my own. But you must blame yourself,
    since you force me to reveal what I should otherwise have buried
    in eternal Oblivion." "What you say," answered Shier-ear, "serves
    only to increase my curiosity. Discover the secret, whatever it
    be." The king of Tartary being no longer able to refuse, related
    to him the particulars of the blacks in disguise, of the
    ungoverned passion of the sultaness, and her ladies; nor did he
    forget Masoud. After having been witness to these infamous
    actions, he continued, "I believed all women to be naturally
    lewd; and that they could not resist their inclination. Being of
    this opinion, it seemed to me to be in men an unaccountable
    weakness to place any confidence in their fidelity. This
    reflection brought on many others; and in short, I thought the
    best thing I could do was to make myself easy. It cost me some
    pains indeed, but at last I grew reconciled; and if you will take
    my advice, you will follow my example."

    Though the advice was good, the sultan could not approve of it,
    but fell into a rage. "What!" said he, "is the sultaness of the
    Indies capable of prostituting herself in so base a manner! No,
    brother, I cannot believe what you state unless I beheld it with
    my own eyes. Yours must needs have deceived you; the matter is so
    important that I must be satisfied of it myself." "Dear brother,"
    answered Shaw-zummaun, "that you may without much difficulty.
    Appoint another hunting-match, and when we are out of town with
    your court and mine, we will rest under our tents, and at night
    let you and I return unattended to my apartments. I am certain
    the next day you will see a repetition of the scene." The sultan
    approving the stratagem, immediately appointed another hunting-
    match. And that same day the tents were pitched at the place
    appointed.

    The next day the two princes set out with all their retinue; they
    arrived at the place of encampment, and stayed there till night.
    Shier-ear then called his grand vizier, and, without acquainting
    him with his design, commanded him during his absence to suffer
    no person to quit the camp on any presence whatever. As soon as
    he had given this order, the king of Grand Tartary and he took
    horse, passed through the camp incognito, returned to the city,
    and went to Shaw-zummaun's apartment. They had scarcely placed
    themselves in the window whence the king of Tartary had beheld
    the scene of the disguised blacks, when the secret gate opened,
    the sultaness and her ladies entered the garden with the blacks,
    and she having called to Masoud, the sultan saw more than enough
    fully to convince him of his dishonour and misfortune.

    "Oh heavens!" he exclaimed, "what indignity! What horror! Can the
    wife of a sovereign be capable of such infamous conduct? After
    this, let no prince boast of being perfectly happy. Alas! my
    brother," continued he, embracing the king of Tartery, "let us
    both renounce the world, honour is banished out of it; if it
    flatter us one day, it betrays us the next. Let us abandon our
    dominions, and go into foreign countries, where we may lead an
    obscure life, and conceal our misfortunes." Shaw-zummaun did not
    at all approve of this plan, but did not think fit to contradict
    Shierear in the heat of his passion. "Dear brother," he replied,
    "your will shall be mine. I am ready to follow you whithersoever
    you please: but promise me that you will return, if we meet with
    any one more unhappy than ourselves." "To this I agree," said the
    sultan, "but doubt much whether we shall." "I am not of your
    opinion in this," replied the king of Tartary; "I fancy our
    journey will be but short." Having thus resolved, they went
    secretly out of the palace. They travelled as long as day-light
    continued; and lay the first night under trees. They arose about
    break of day, went on till they came to a fine meadow on the
    seashore, that was be-sprinkled with large trees They sat down
    under one of them to rest and refresh themselves, and the chief
    subject of their conversation was the infidelity or their wives.

    They had not rested long, before they heard a frightful noise
    from the sea, and a terrible cry, which filled them with fear.
    The sea then opened, and there arose something like a great black
    column, which reached almost to the clouds. This redoubled their
    terror, made them rise with haste, and climb up into a tree m
    bide themselves. They had scarcely got up, when looking to the
    place from whence the noise proceeded, and where the sea had
    opened, they observed that the black column advanced, winding
    about towards the: shore, cleaving the water before it. They
    could not at first think what this could mean, but in a little
    time they found that it was one of those malignant genies that
    are mortal enemies to mankind, and are always doing them
    mischief. He was black and frightful, had the shape of a giant,
    of a prodigious stature, and carried on his head a large glass
    box, fastened with four locks of fine steel. He entered the
    meadow with his burden, which he laid down just at the foot of
    the tree where the two princes were concealed, who gave
    themselves over as lost. The genie sat down by his box, and
    opening it with four keys that he had at his girdle, there came
    out a lady magnificently appareled, of a majestic stature, and
    perfect beauty. The monster made her sit down by him, and eyeing
    her with an amorous look, said, "Lady, nay, most accomplished of
    all ladies who are admired for their beauty, my charming
    mistress, whom I carried off on your wedding-day, and have loved
    so constantly ever since, let me sleep a few moments by you; for
    I found myself so very drowsy that I came to this place to take a
    little rest." Having spoken thus, he laid down his huge head upon
    the lady's knees, and stretching out his legs, which reached as
    far as the sea, he fell asleep presently, and snored so loud that
    he made the shores echo.

    The lady happening at this time to look up, saw the two princes
    in the tree, and made a sign to them with her hand to come down
    without making any noise. Their fear was extreme when they found
    themselves discovered, and they prayed the lady, by other signs,
    to excuse them. But she, after having laid the monster's head
    softly on the ground, rose up and spoke to them, with a low but
    eager voice, to come down to her; she would take no denial. They
    informed her by signs that they were afraid of the genie, and
    would fain have been excused. Upon which she ordered them to come
    down, and threatened if they did not make haste, to awaken the
    genie, and cause him to put them to death.

    These words so much intimidated the princes, that they began to
    descend with all possible precaution lest they should awake the
    genie. When they had come down, the lady took them by the hand,
    and going a little farther with them under the trees, made them a
    very urgent proposal. At first they rejected it, but she obliged
    them to comply by her threats. Having obtained what she desired,
    she perceived that each of them had a ring on his finger, which
    she demanded. As soon as she had received them, she pulled out a
    string of other rings, which she shewed the princes, and asked
    them if they knew what those jewels meant? "No," said they, "we
    hope you will be pleased to inform us." "These are," she replied,
    "the rings of all the men to whom I have granted my favours.
    There are fourscore and eighteen, which I keep as memorials of
    them; and I asked for yours to make up the hundred. So that I
    have had a hundred gallants already, notwithstanding the
    vigilance of this wicked genie, who never leaves me. He may lock
    me up in this glass box and hide me in the bottom of the sea; but
    I find methods to elude his vigilance. You may see by this, that
    when a woman has formed a project, there is no husband or lover
    that can prevent her from putting it in execution. Men had better
    not put their wives under such restraint, as it only serves to
    teach them cunning." Having spoken thus to them, she put their
    rings on the same string with the rest, and sitting down by the
    monster, as before, laid his head again upon her lap, end made a
    sign to the princes to depart.

    They returned immediately the way they had come, and when they
    were out of sight of the lady and the genie Shier-ear said to
    Shaw-zummaun "Well, brother, what do you think of this adventure?
    Has not the genie a very faithful mistress? And do you not agree
    that there is no wickedness equal to that of women?" "Yes,
    brother," answered the king of Great Tartary; "and you must also
    agree that the monster is more unfortunate, and more to be pitied
    than ourselves. Therefore, since we have found what we sought
    for, let us return to our dominions, and let not this hinder us
    from marrying. For my part, I know a method by which to preserve
    the fidelity of my wife inviolable. I will say no more at
    present, but you will hear of it in a little time, and I am sure
    you will follow my example." The sultan agreed with his brother;
    and continuing their journey, they arrived in the camp the third
    night after their departure.

    The news of the sultan's return being spread, the courtiers came
    betimes in the morning before his pavilion to wait his pleasure.
    He ordered them to enter, received them with a more pleasant air
    than he had formerly done, and gave each of them a present. After
    which, he told them he would go no farther, ordered them to take
    horse, and returned with expedition to his palace.

    As soon as he arrived, he proceeded to the sultaness's apartment,
    commanded her to be bound before him, and delivered her to his
    grand vizier, with an order to strangle her, which was
    accordingly executed by that minister, without inquiring into her
    crime. The enraged prince did not stop here, but cut off the
    heads of all the sultaness's ladies with his own hand. After this
    rigorous punishment, being persuaded that no woman was chaste, he
    resolved, in order to prevent the disloyalty of such as he should
    afterwards marry, to wed one every night, and have her strangled
    next morning. Having imposed this cruel law upon himself, he
    swore that he would put it in force immediately after the
    departure of the king of Tartary, who shortly took leave of him,
    and being laden with magnificent presents, set forward on his
    journey.

    Shaw-zummaun having departed, Shier-ear ordered his grand vizier
    to bring him the daughter of one of his generals. The vizier
    obeyed. The sultan lay with her, and putting her next morning
    into his hands again in order to have her strangled, commanded
    him to provide him another the next night. Whatever reluctance
    the vizier might feel to put such orders in execution, as he owed
    blind obedience to the sultan his master, he was forced to
    submit. He brought him then the daughter of a subaltern, whom he
    also put to death the next day. After her he brought a citizen's
    daughter; and, in a word, there was every day a maid married, and
    a wife murdered.

    The rumour of this unparalleled barbarity occasioned a general
    consternation in the city, where there was nothing but crying and
    lamentation. Here, a father in tears, and inconsolable for the
    loss of his daughter; and there, tender mothers dreating lest
    their daughters should share the same fate, filling the air with
    cries of distress and apprehension. So that, instead of the
    commendation and blessings which the sultan had hitherto received
    from his subjects, their mouths were now filled with
    imprecations.

    The grand vizier who, as has been already observed, was the
    unwilling executioner of this horrid course of injustice, had two
    daughters, the elder called Scheherazade, and the younger
    Dinarzade. The latter was highly accomplished; but the former
    possessed courage, wit, and penetration, infinitely above her
    sex. She had read much, and had so admirable a memory, that she
    never forgot any thing she had read. She had successfully applied
    herself to philosophy, medicine, history, and the liberal arts;
    and her poetry excelled the compositions of the best writers of
    her time. Besides this, she was a perfect beauty, and all her
    accomplishments were crowned by solid virtue.

    The vizier loved this daughter, so worthy of his affection. One
    day, as they were conversing together, she said to him, "Father,
    I have one favour to beg of you, and most humbly pray you to
    grant it." "I will not refuse," answered he, "provided it be just
    and reasonable." "For the justice of it," resumed she, "there can
    be no question, and you may judge of this by the motive which
    obliges me to make the request. I wish to stop that barbarity
    which the sultan exercises upon the families of this city. I
    would dispel those painful apprehensions which so many mothers
    feel of losing their daughters in such a fatal manner." "Your
    design, daughter," replied the vizier "is very commendable; but
    the evil you would remedy seems to me incurable. How do you
    propose to effect your purpose?" "Father," said Scheherazade,
    "since by your means the sultan makes every day a new marriage, I
    conjure you, by the tender affection you bear me, to procure me
    the honour of his bed." The vizier could not hear this without
    horror. "O heaven!" he replied in a passion, "have you lost your
    senses, daughter, that you make such a dangerous request? You
    know the sultan has sworn, that he will never lie above one night
    with the same woman, and to command her to be killed the next
    morning; would you then have me propose you to him? Consider well
    to what your indiscreet zeal will expose you." "Yes, dear
    father," replied the virtuous daughter, "I know the risk I run;
    but that does not alarm me. If I perish, my death will be
    glorious; and if I succeed, I shall do my country an important
    service." "No, no," said the vizier "whatever you may offer to
    induce me to let you throw yourself into such imminent danger, do
    not imagine that I will ever consent. When the sultan shall
    command me to strike my poniard into your heart, alas! I must
    obey; and what an employment will that be for a father! Ah! if
    you do not dread death, at least cherish some fears of afflicting
    me with the mortal grief of imbuing my hands in your blood."
    "Once more father," replied Scheherazade, "grant me the favour I
    solicit." "Your stubbornness," resumed the vizier "will rouse my
    anger; why will you run headlong to your ruin? They who do not
    foresee the end of a dangerous enterprise can never conduct it to
    a happy issue. I am afraid the same thing will happen to you as
    befell the ass, which was well off, but could not remain so."
    "What misfortune befell the ass?" demanded Scheherazade. "I will
    tell you," replied the vizier, "if you will hear me."
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