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THE region round the little town of Kj ge is very bleak and bareThe town certainly lies by the seashorewhich is always beautifulbut just there it might be more beautiful than it isall around are flat fieldsand it is a long way to the forestBut when one is really at home in a placeone always finds something beautifuland something that one longs for in the most charming spot in the world that is strange to usWe confess thatby the utmost boundary of the little townwhere some humble gardens skirt the streamlet that falls into the seait must be very pretty in summerand this was the opinion of the two childrenfrom neighbouring houseswho were playing thereand forcing their way through the gooseberry bushes to get to one another

In one of the gardens stood an elder treeand in the other an old willowand under the latter especially the children were very fond of playingthey were allowed to play therethoughindeedthe tree stood close beside the streamand they might easily have fallen into the waterBut the eye of God watches over the little onesif it did notthey would be badly offAndmoreoverthey were very careful with respect to the waterin factthe boy was so much afraid of itthat they could not lure him into the sea in summerwhen the other children were splashing about in the wavesAccordinglyhe was famously jeered and mocked atand had to bear the jeering and mockery as best he couldBut once Joannathe neighbour's little girldreamed she was sailing in a boatand Knud waded out to join her till the water rosefirst to his neckand afterwards closed right over his headFrom the time when little Knud heard of this dreamhe would no longer stand any one saying that he was afraid of the waterbut simply referred them to Joanna's dreamthat was his pridebut into the water he did not go

Their parentswho were poor peopleoften visited each otherand Knud and Joanna played in the gardens and on the high roadwhere a row of willows had been planted beside the ditchthese treeswith their polled topscertainly did not look beautifulbut they were not put there for ornamentbut for useThe old willow tree in the garden was much handsomerand therefore the children were fond of sitting under it

In the town itself there was a great marketplaceand at the time of the fair this place was covered with whole streets of tents and boothscontaining silk ribbonsbootsand everything that a person could wish forThere was great crowdingand generally the weather was rainyand then one noticed the odour of the peasants’ coatsbut also the fragrance of the honeycakes and the gingerbreadof which there was a booth quite fulland the best of it wasthat the man who kept this booth came every year to lodge during the fairtime in the dwelling of little Knud's fatherConsequently there came a present of a bit of gingerbread every now and thenand of course Joanna received her share of the giftBut perhaps the most charming thing of all was that the gingerbread dealer knew all sorts of talesand could even relate histories about his own gingerbread cakesand one eveningin particularhe told a story about them which made such a deep impression on the children that they never forgot itand for that reason it is perhaps advisable that we should hear it toomore especially as the story is not long

On the shopboard,”he said,“lay two gingerbread cakesone in the shape of a man with a hatthe other of a maiden without a bonnetbut with a piece of goldleaf on her headboth their faces were on the side that was uppermostfor they were to be looked at on that sideand not on the otherandindeedno one should be viewed from the wrong sideOn the left side the man wore a bitter almond——that was his heartbut the maidenon the other handwas honeycake all overThey were placed as samples on the shopboardand remaining there a long timeat last they fell in love with one anotherbut neither told the otheras they should have done if they had expected anything to come of it

He is a manand therefore he must speak first,’she thoughtbut she felt quite contentedfor she knew her love was returned

His thoughts were far more extravagantas is always the case with a manHe dreamed that he was a real street boythat he had four pennies of his ownand that he purchased the maiden and ate her upSo they lay on the shop-board for days and weeksand grew dry and hardbut the thoughts of the maiden became ever more gentle and maidenly

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It is enough for me that I have lain on the same table with him,’she saidand——crack!——she broke in two

If she had only known of my loveshe would have kept together a little longer,’he thought

And that is the storyand here they areboth of them,”said the baker in conclusion.“They are remark-able for their curious historyand for their silent lovewhich never came to anythingAnd there they are for you!”andso sayinghe gave Joanna the man who was yet entireand Knud got the broken maidenbut the children had been so much impressed by the story that they could not summon courage to eat up the lovers

On the following day they went out with them to the churchyardand sat down by the church wallwhich is coveredwinter and summerwith the most luxuriant ivy as with a rich carpetHere they stood the two cake figures up in the sunshine among the green leavesand told the story to a group of other childrenthey told them of the silent love which led to nothingIt was called love because the story was so lovelyon that they all agreedBut when they turned to look again at the gingerbread paira big boyout of mischiefhad eaten up the broken maidenThe children cried about thisand afterwards——probably that the poor lover might not be left in the world lonely and desolate——they ate him up toobut they never forgot the story

The children were always together by the elder tree and under the willowand the little girl sang the most beautiful songs with a voice that was clear as a bellKnudon the other handhad not a note of music in himbut he knew the words of the songsand that is always somethingThe people of Kjogeeven to the rich wife of the ironmongerstood still and listened when Joanna sang.“She has a very sweet voicethat little girl,”she said

Those were glorious daysbut they could not last for everThe neighbours were neighbours no longerThe little maiden's mother was deadand the father intended to mar-ry againin the capitalwhere he had been promised a livin as a messengerwhich was to be a very lucrative officeAnd the neighbours separated regretfullythe children weeping heartilybut the parents promised that they should at least write to one another once a year

And Knud was bound apprentice to a shoemakerfor the big boy could not be allowed to run wild any longerand moreover he was confirmed

Ahhow gladly on that day of celebration would he have been in Copenhagenwith little Joannabut he remained in Kjogeand had never yet been to Copenhagenthough the little town is only five Danish miles distant from the capitalbut far across the baywhen the sky was clearKnud had seen the towers in the distance and on the day of his confirmation he could distinctly see the golden cross on the principal church glittering in the sun

Ahhow often his thoughts were with JoannaDid she think of himYesTowards Christmas there came a letter from her father to the parents of Knudto say that they were getting on very well in Copenhagenand especially might Joanna look forward to a brilliant future on the strength of her fine voiceShe had been engaged in the theatre in which people singand was already earning some moneyout of which she sent her dear neighbours of Kjoge a dollar for the merry Christmas-eveThey were to drink her healthshe had herself added in a postscriptand in the same postscript there stood further,“A kind greeting to Knud.”

The whole family wept and yet all this was very pleasant——those were joyful tears that they shedKnud's thoughts had been occupied every day with Joannaand now he knew that she also thought of himand the nearer the time came when his apprenticeship would be overthe more clearly did it appear to him that he was very fond of Joannaand that she must be his wifeand when he thought of thisa smile came upon his lipsand he drew the thread twice as fast as beforeand pressed his foot hard against the kneestrapHe ran the awl far into his fingerbut he did not care for thatHe determined not to play the dumb loveras the two gingerbread cakes had donethe story should teach him a lesson

And now he was a journeymanand his knapsack was packed ready for his journeyat lengthfor the first time in his lifehe was to go to Copenhagenwhere a master was already waiting for himHow glad Joanna would beShe was now seventeen years oldand he nineteen

Already in Kjoge he had wanted to buy a gold ring for herbut he recollected that such things were to be had far better in CopenhagenAnd now he took leave of his parentsand on a rainy daylate in the autumnwent forth on foot out of the town of his birthThe leaves were falling down from the treesand he arrived at his new master's in Copenhagen wet to the skin

Next Sunday he was to pay a visit to Joanna's fatherThe new journeyman's clothes were brought forthand the new hat from Kjoge was put onwhich became Knud very wellfor till this time he had only worn a capAnd he found the house he soughtand mounted flight after flight of stairs until he became almost giddyIt was terrible to him to see how people lived piled up one over the other in the dreadful city

Everything in the room had a prosperous lookand Joanna's father received him very kindlyTo the new wife he was a strangerbut she shook hands with himand gave him some coffee

Joanna will be glad to see you,”said the father:“you have grown quite a nice young manYou shall see her presentlyShe is a girl who rejoices my heartandplease Godshe will rejoice it yet moreShe has her own room nowand pays us rent for it.”

And the father knocked quite politely at the dooras if he were a visitorand then they went in

But how pretty everything was in that roomsuch an apartment was certainly not to be found in all Kjogethe Queen herself could not be more charmingly lodgedThere were carpetsthere were window curtains quite down to the floorand around were flowers and picturesand a mirror into which there was almost danger that a visitor might stepfor it was as large as a doorand there was even a velvet chair

Knud saw all this at a glanceand yet he saw nothing but JoannaShe was a grown maidenquite different from what Knud had fancied herand much more beautifulIn all Kjoge there was not a girl like herHow graceful she wasand with what an odd unfamiliar glance she looked at KnudBut that was only for a momentand then she rushed towards him as if she would have kissed himShe did not really do sobut she came very near itYesshe was certainly rejoiced at the arrival of the friend of her youthThe tears were actually in her eyesand She had much to sayand many questions to put concerning allfrom Knud's parents down to the elder tree and the willowwhich she called Elder-mother and Willow-fatheras if they had been human beingsand indeed they might pass as suchjust as well as the gingerbread cakesand of these she spoke tooand of their silent loveand how they had lain upon the shop-board and split in two-and then she laughed very heartilybut the blood mounted in-to Knud's cheeksand his heart beat thick and fastNoshe had not grown proud at allAnd it was through her-he noticed it well-that her parents invited him to stay the whole evening with themand she poured out the tea and gave him a cup with her own handsand afterwards she took a book and read aloud to themand it seemed to Knud that what she read was all about himself and his lovefor it matched so well with his thoughtsand then she sang a simple songbut through singingit be-came like a historyand seemed to be the outpouring of her very heartYescertainly she was fond of KnubThe tears coursed down his cheeks-he could not restrain themnor could he speak a single wordhe thought him-self very stupidand yet she pressed his handand said

You have a good heartKnub-remain always as you are now.”

That was an evening of matchless delight to Knudto sleep after it was impossibleand accordingly Knud did not sleep

At partingJoanna's father had said,“Nowyou won't forget us altogetherDon't let the whole winter go by without once coming to see us again;”and therefore he could very well go again the next Sundayand resolved to do soBut every evening when working hours were over-and they worked by candle-light there-Knud went out through the townhe went into the street in which Joanna livedand looked up at her windowit was almost always lit upand one evening he could see the shadow of her face quite plainly on the curtain-and that was a grand evening for himHis master's wife did not like his gallivanting abroad every eveningas she expressed itand she shook her headbut the master only smiled

He is only a young fellow,” he said

But Knud thought to himself:“On Sunday I shall see herand I shall tell her how completely she reigns in my thoughtsand that she must be my little wifeI know I am only a poor joumeyman shoemakerbut I shall work and strive-yesI shall tell her soNothing comes of silent loveI have learned that from the cakes

And Sunday came roundand Knud sallied forthbutunluckilythey were all going outand were obliged to tell him soJoanna pressed his handand said

Have you ever been to the theatreYou must go onceI shall sing on Wednesdayand if you have time on that eveningI will send you a ticketmy father knows where your master lives

How kind that was of herAnd on Wednesday at noon he received a sealed paperwith no words written in itbut the ticket was thereand in the evening Knud went to the theatre for the first time in his lifeAnd what did he seeHe saw Joannaand how charming and how beautiful she lookedShe was certainly married to a strangerbut that was all in the play-something that was only make-believeas Knud knew very wellOtherwisehe thoughtshe would never have had the heart to send him a ticket that he might go and see itAnd all the people shouted and applaudedand Knud cried outhurrah!”

Even the King smiled at Joannaand seemed to de-light in herAhhow small Knud feltbut then he loved her so dearlyand thought that she loved him toobut it was for the man to speak the first wordas the gingerbread maiden had thoughtand there was a great deal for him in that story

So soon as Sunday camehe went againHe felt as if he were going into a churchJoanna was aloneand received him-it could not have happened more fortunately

It is well that you are comeshe said.“I had an idea of sending my father to youonly I felt a presentiment that you would be here this eveningfor I must tell you that I start for France on FridayI must do that so that I may really come to be something

It seemed to Knud as if the whole room turned round and as if his heart would burstno tear rose to his eyesbut still it was easy to see how sorrowful he was

Joanna saw itand came near to crying

You honestfaithful soul!”she exclaimed

And these wods of hers loosened Knud's tongueHe told her how constantly he loved herand that she must become his wifeand as he said thishe saw Joanna turn paleShe let his hand falland answeredseriously and mournfully

Knuddo not make yourself and me unhappyI shall always be a good sister to youone in whom you may trustbut I shall never be anything more.”

And she drew her white band over his hot forehead

Heaven gives us strength for much,”she said,“if we only endeavour to do our best

At that monent the stepmother came into the roomand Joanna said quickly

Knud is quite inconsolable because I am going awayComebe a man,”she continuedand laid her hand upon his shouldeand it seemed as if they had been talking of the journeyand nothing else.“You are a child,”she added;“but now you must be good and reasonableas you used to be under the willow treewhen we were both children

But Knud felt as if a piece had gone out of the worldand his thoughts were like a loose thread fluttering to and fro in the windHe stayedthough he could not remember if she had asked him to stayand they were kind and goodand Joanna poured out his tea for himand sang to himIt had not the old toneand yet it was wonderfully beautifuland made his heart feel ready to burstAnd then they partedKnud did not offer her his handbut she seized itand said

Surely you will shake hands with your sister at partingold playfellow!”

And she smiled through the tears that were rolling over her cheeksand she repeated the word brother-as if that would help much-and thus they parted

She sailed to Franceand Knud wandered about the muddy streets of CopenhagenThe other journeymen in the workshop asked him why he went about so gloomilyand told him he should go and amuse himself with themfor he was a young fellow

And they went with him to the dancing-roomsHe saw many handsome girls therebut certainly not one like Joan-naand herewhere he thought to forget hershe stood more vividly than ever in his thoughts.“Heaven gives us strength for a great dealif we only try to do our best,”she had saidand holy thoughts came into his mindand he folded his handsThe violins playedand the girls danced round in a circleand he was quite startledfor it seemed to him as if he were in a place to which he ought not to have brought Joanna-for she was there with himin his heartand accordingly he went outHe ran through the streetsand passed by the house where she had dweltit was dark theredark everywhereand emptyand loneyThe world went its wayand Knud went his

The winter cameand the streams were frozenEverything seemed to be preparing for a burial

But when spring returmedand the first steamer was to starta longing seized him to go awayfarfar into the worldbut not too near to FranceSo he packed his knapsackand wandered far into the German landfrom city to citywithout rest or peaceand it was not till he came to the glorious old city of Nurembergthat he could master his restless spiritand in Nurembergthereforehe decided to remain

Nuremberg is a wonderful old cityand looks as if it were cut out of an old picture-bookThe streets lie just as they pleaseThe houses do not like standing in regular ranksGables with little towersarabesquesand pillarsstart out over the pathwayand from the strange peaked roofs-spoutsformed like dragons or great slim dogsextend far over the street

Here in the market-place stood Knudwith his knapsack on his backHe stood by one of the old fountains that are adorned with splendid bronze figuresscriptural and historicalrising up between the gushing jets of waterA pretty servant-maid was just filling her pailsand she gave Knud a refreshing draughtand as her hand was full of rosesshe gave him one of the flowersand he accepted it as a good omen

From the neighbouring church the strains of the or-an were soundingthey seemed to him as familiar as the tones of the organ at home at Kjogeand he went into the great cathedralThe sunlight streamed in through the stained glass windowsbetween the lofty slender pillarsHis spirit became prayerfuland peace returned to his soul

And he sought and found a good master in Nurembergwith whom he stayedand learned the language

The old moat round the town has been converted into a unmber of little kitchen gardensbut the high walls are standing yetwith their heavy towersThe ropemaker twists his ropes on a gallery or walk built of woodinside the town wallwhere elder bushes grow out of the clefts and cracksspreading their green twigs over the little low houses that stand belowand in one of these dwelt the master with whom Knud workedand over the little garret window where he slept the elder waved its branches

Here he lived through a summer and a winterbut when the spring came again he could bear it no longerThe elder was in blossomand its fragrance reminded him so of homethat he fancied himself back in the garden at Kjogeand therefore Knud went away from his masterand dwelt with anotherfarther in the townover whose house no elder bush grew

His workshop was quite close to one of the old stone bridgesby a low water-millthat rushed and foamed alwaysWithoutrolled the roaring streamhemmed in by houseswhose old decayed gables looked ready to topple down into the waterNo elder grew herethere was not even a flower-pot with its little green plantbut just opposite the workshop stood a great old willow treethat seemed to cling fast to the housefor fear of being carried away by the waterand which stretched forth its branches over the riverjust as the willow at Kjoge spread its arms across the streamlet by the gardens there

Yeshe had certainly gone from the Elder-motherto theWillow-father”.The tree here had some-thingespecially on moonlight eveningsthat went straight to his heart-and that something was not in the moonlightbut in the old tree itself

Neverthelesshe could not remainWhy notAsk the willow treeask the blooming elderAnd therefore he bade farewell to his master in Nurembergand joumeyed on-ward

To no one did he speak of Joanna-in his secret heart he hid his sorrowand he thought of the deep meaning in the story of the two cakesNow he understood why the man had a bitter almond in his breast-he himself felt the bitterness of itand Joannawho was always so gentle and kindwas typified by the honey-cake

The strap of his knapsack seemed so tight across his chest that he could scarcely breathehe loosened itbut was not relievedHe saw but half the world around himthe other half he carried about him and within himselfAnd thus it stood with him

Not till he came in sight of the high mountains did the world appear treer to himand now his thoughts were turned withoutand tears came into his eyes

The Alps appeared to him as the folded wings of the earthhow if they were to unfold themselvesand display their variegated pictures of black woodsfoaming waterscloudsand masses of snowAt the last dayhe thoughtthe world will lift up its great wingsand mount upwards towards the skyand burst like a soap-bubble in the glance of the Highest

Ah,” sighed he,“that the Last Day were come!”

Silently he wandered through the landthat seemed to him as an orchard covered with soft turfFrom the wooden balconies of the houses the girls who sat busy with their lace-making nodded at himthe summits of the mountains glowed in the red sun of the eveningand when he saw the green lakes gleaming among the dark treeshe thought of the coast by the Bay of Kj geand there was a longing in his bosombut it was pain no more

There where the Rhine rolls onward like a great billowand burstsand is changed into snow-whitegleam-incloud-like massesas if clouds were being created therewith the rainbow fluttering like a loose ribbon above themthere he thought of the water-mill at Kj gewith its rushingfoaming water

Gladly would he have remained in the quiet Rhenish townbut here also were too many elder trees and willowsand therefore he journeyed onover the highmighty mountainsthrough shattered walls of rockand on roads that clung like swallows nests to the mountain-sideThe waters foamed on in the depthsthe clouds were below himand he strode on over thistlesAlpine rosesand snowin the warm summer sunand saying farewell to the lands of the Northhe passed on under the shade of chestnut treesand through vineyards and fields of maizeThe mountains were a wall between him and all his recollectionsand he wished it to be so

Before him lay a great glorious city which they called Milanand here he found a German master who gave him workThey were an old pious couplein whose workshop he now labouredAnd the two old people be came quite fond of the quiet journeymanwho said littlebut worked all the moreand led a pious Christian lifeTo himself also it seemed as if Heaven had lifted the heavy burden from his heart

His favourite pastime was to mount now and then upon the mighty marble churchwhich seemed to him to have been formed of the snow of his native landfashioned into roofsand pinnaclesand decorated open hallsfrom every corner and every point the white statues smiled upon him Above him was the blue skybelow him the city and the widespreading Lombard plainsand towards the north the high mountains clad with perpetual snowand he thought of the church at Kj gewi ith its red ivy-covered wallsbut he did not long to go thitherherebeyond the mountainshe would be buried

He had dwelt here a yearand three years had passed away since he left his homewhen one day his master took him into the city not to the circus where riders exhibitedbut to the operawhere was a hall worth seeingThere were seven storiesfrom each of which beautiful silken curtains hung downand from the ground to the dizzy height of the roof sat elegant ladieswith bouquets of flowers in their handsas if they were at a balland the gentlemen were in full dressand many of them decorated with gold and silverIt was as bright there as in the brilliant sunshineand the music rolled gloriously through the buildingEverything was much more splendid than in the theatre at Copenhagenbut then Joanna had been therewhile here-YesIt was like magic-the curtain roseand Joanna appeareddressed in silk and goldwith a crown upon her headshe sang as he thought none but angels could singand came far forwardquite to the front of the stageand smiled as only Joanna could smileand looked straight down at Knud

Poor Knud seized his master's handand called out aloud,“Joanna!”but it could not be heardthe musicians played so loudlyand the master nodded and said,“Yesyesher name is Joanna

And he drew forth a printed playbilland showed Knud her name-for the full name was printed there

Noit was not a dreamAll the people applauded and threw wreaths and flowers to herand every time she went away they called her backso that she was always going and coming

In the street the people crowded round her carriageand drew it away in triumphKnud was in the foremost rowand gladdest of alland when the carriage stopped before her brilliantly lighted houseKnud stood close be-side the door of the eariageIt was openedand she stepped outthe light fell upon her dear faceas she smiledand made a kindly gesture of thanksand appeared deeply movedKnud looked straight into her faceand she looked into hisbut she did not know himA man with a star glittering on his breast gave her his arm-and it was whispered about that the two were engaged

Then Knud went home and packed his knapsack He was determined to go back to his own hometo the elder and willow treesahunder the willow tree

The old couple begged him to remainbut no words could induce him to stayIt was in vain they told him that winter comingand pointed out that snow had already fallen in the mountainshe said he could march onwith his knapsack on his backin the wake of the slow-moving carriagefor which they would have to clear a path

So he went away towards the mountainsand marched up them and down themHis strength was giving waybut still he saw no villageno househe marched on towards the northThe stars came out above himhis feet stumbledand his head grew dizzyDeep in the valley stars were shining tooand it seemed as if there were another sky below himHe felt he was illThe stars below him became more and more numerousand glowed brighter and brighterand moved to and froIt was a little town whose lights beamed thereand when he understood thathe exerted the remains of his strengthand at last reached a humble inn

That night and the whole of the following day he remained therefor his body required rest and refreshmentIt was thawingand there was rain in the valleyBut early on the second morning came a man with an organwho played a tune of homeand now Knud could stay no longerHe continued his journey towards the northmarching onward for many days with haste and hurryas if he were trying to get home before all were dead therebut to no one did he speak of his longingfor no one would have believed in the sorrow of his heartthe deepest a human heart can feelSuch a grief is not for the worldfor it is not amusingnor is it even for friendsand moreover he had no friends-a strangerhe wandered through strange lands towards his home in the NorthIn the only letter he had received from homeone that his parents had written more than a year beforewere the words:“You are not thoroughly Danish like the rest of usYou are fond only of foreign lands.”His parents could actually write that-yesthey knew him so well

It was eveningHe was walking on the public high roadThe frost began to make itself feltand the country soon became flattercontaining mere field and meadowBy the roadside grew a great willow treeEverything re-minded him of homeand he sat down under the treehe felt very tiredhis head began to nodand his eyes closed in slumberbut still he was conscious that the tree lowered its branches towards himthe tree appeared to be an oldmighty man-it seemed as if theWillow-fatherhimself had taken up his tired son in his armsand were carrying him back into the land of hometo the bare bleak shore of Kj geto the garden of his childhood

Yeshe dreamed it was the willow tree of Kj ge that had travelled out into the world to seek himand that now had found himand had let him back into the little garden by the streamletand there stood Joannnain all her splendourwith the golden crown on her headas he had seen her lastand she called out Welcome!”to him

And before him stood two remarkable shapeswhich looked much more human than they did in his childhoodthey had changed alsobut they were still the two cakes that turned the right side toward himand looked very well

We thank you,”they said to Knud.“You have loosened our tonguesand have taught us that thoughts should be spoken out freelyor nothing will come of themand now something has indeed come of it-we are betrothed.”

Then they went band in hand through the streets of Kj geand they looked very spectable in every waythere was no fault to find with themAnd they went onstraight towards the churchand Knud and Joanna followed themthey also were walking hand in handand the church stood there as it had always stoodwith its red wallson which the green ivy grewand the great door of the church flew openand the organ soundedand they walked up the long aisle of the church

Our master first,”said the cake coupleand made room for Joanna and Knudwho knelt by the altarand she bent her head over himand tears fell from her eyesbut they were icy coldfor it was the ice around her heart that was melting-melting by his strong loveand the tears fell upon his burning cheeksand he awokeand was sitting under the old willow tree in the strange landin the cold wintry eveningan icy hail was falling from the clouds and beating on his face

That was the most delicious hour of my life!”he said,“and it was but a dreamOhlet me dream it over again!”

And he closed his eyes once moreand slept and dreamed

Towards morning there was a great fall of snowThe wind drifted the snow over his feetbut he slept onThe villagers came forth to go to churchand by the roadside sat a journeymanHe was dead-frozen to death under the willow tree

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