//Monday evening. God, I’m tired. I’ve been driving all day, and it’s as hard as doing surgery when there are four in the car and you don’t know the route. Erin was mucking about, to the point where even Hawkeye got fed up with her—not, on a normal day like today, an easy thing to do. Oh, and the car broke down. Thankfully, the guy at the gas station was helpful, or we might not be here at all. It was funny, through, wath watching Hawkeye trie to fix it and only macking in worse. I should sop—I’m clerly in need of sleep.

* * *

Tuesday night. The journey went fine—Peg’s a better driver than I am—but she opened a real can of worms, talking to Hawkeye. She got him talking about his parents, and I think I need to write it all down, because masses of it is new to me.

“So, Hawkeye,” she began, once we were on a clear, dull stretch of road, “Tell us about Crabapple Cove. What do we have to look out for?”

He thought for a moment, and from the back seat I watched him assume ‘storytelling mode’: set the shoulders, tilt the head, focus on Peggy, since he can’t see the rest of his audience.

“Crabapple Cove has many fine features, as much history as anywhere in America, and an excellent cast of recurring characters. For example, the lobsters. Some of them have been crawling out of buckets since the Indians invented fishing.”

Erin giggled. “Are the people as interesting?” Peggy asked.

“They’re much the same, actually. They’re born, grow up, crawl out of buckets, get married, do the jobs their fathers did, have children, teach their children to crawl out of buckets, and so on and so forth.” He paused, and then went on, “Even the lobsters know all names, and the widowers marry the widows, to ‘be comfortable in their old age’. Like Dad and Ella Ingram. Everyone’s been teasing them about being ready to share a bucket for years—even me. I was clearly wrong when I decided it was only a joke.”

“Does everyone really take over the family business?”

“Yeah—that’s what Dad wants me to do, take over his practice. Get married, have kids, crawl out of the bucket just the same as all the others.”

“I bet most of them aren’t called ‘Hawkeye’.”

“One of the lobsters is called Old Toenabber.”

“That’s Byron, right?” I asked.


“But why call you Hawkeye, if he wanted you to be just the same as all the others?”

Hawkeye shrugged. “I don’t know. Some of it’s just because he loved the book. In the early days, I think it was a joke that happened to stick, given that when I was afraid of the dark—before I read the book, thankfully—he used to call me Montcalm. Mom accepted it because she could weave the her old Irish stories around it.”

“Your mother was Irish?”

“Yeah—second generation American. Her mother was a great one for telling old stories, and mom carried that on. I think that’s part of what dad liked about her, or came to like. He nearly married an Indian girl, but his parents wouldn’t allow it—granddad was very sure that interracial marriages wouldn’t work. Like Cora and Uncas. He married Doreen—my mother—because she was pretty, and granddad approved her. Then, ten years later…”

“It’s alright, Hawkeye, you don’t have to tell us.”

“I think you should know. She died just two weeks before their eleventh wedding anniversary. I was ten and a half, almost to the day.” Hawkeye thought for a moment, and then added, “I never looked at it like this before, but I guess he might have married her because she was pregnant.”

“That would have forced his father into giving permission,” Peggy observed.

“I doubt it was deliberate, though.”


“I don’t get the impression they wanted to get married, really. I mean, they were lovers, obviously, but they didn’t want it to be a long-standing thing. Dad loved mom, and when she died he was devastated, because he’d built his life around her, but when they first met, it was going to be a quick fling. One night stand, almost. He told me, once. I’m not sure he’d remember, but he did.”

At that point, Erin get bored with all this grown-up chatter that didn’t include her, and decided she felt car-sick. Since the first day, she hasn’t actually vomited, but we’ve had several bouts of ‘I feel sick’—some real, some not.

I am far from convinced by the ones that are miraculously cured by candy, for example, however much she rubs her stomach and pouts. She’s yet to learn that Hawkeye, when he puts his mind to it, can pout much more effectively than she can, and that I long ago developed an immunity to it.

Anyway, we didn’t manage to continue the conversation until we’d stopped for the night, had dinner, and put Erin to bed. We sat around the table, then, sipping (or in Hawkeye’s case, gulping) wine.

“What were you going to say, earlier, about your father?”

“About him not wanting to marry mom? Or about them not being happy together?”

“You told us that he didn’t want to get married,” I reminded him.

“Yeah. About them not being happy, then. There’s not that much to tell: he didn’t want to be tied down the way granddad was, but mom insisted, so they got married. Dad loved her, and once he realised he had no choice, he built a way of coping with the boredom around her—argue, make up, argue—but she didn’t like it, and it didn’t exactly make him happy, either, but he coped. Until she wasn’t there anymore, then he had to find something new.”

“What did he do?” I ask, and wonder why Hawkeye doesn’t seem upset by this.

“Oh, he used to get drunk every night. I’d hide in my room, if I couldn’t stay over with Katherine.”

“Hawkeye, I’m sorry.”

“Why? After a couple of years, he pulled himself together, made me go to school, all that kind of stuff.” Hawkeye drained his glass, looked at the empty wine bottle, and went on, “It’s either time for another bottle, or bed.”

He and Peggy are asleep now, curled up together. I tried to sleep, but there’s just too much to think about. I keep picturing eleven year old Hawkeye, hiding in his room and listening to his dad come home drunk.

Two things are clear to me: one, that Hawkeye could easily follow that pattern, even if he manages to break out of the other conventions; and two, if I’m going to let Hawkeye be a third parent to my daughter—which is a part of the whole ‘letting him into my home’ thing—I’d better make damn sure it doesn’t get that bad.

Perhaps giving him a home and my love and a family will be enough that he stops needing the drink—because even if he doesn’t see it yet, he’s still drinking to survive. If it turns out not to be, then I’ll have to… have to…whatever it takes.

I’ll repeat that, just for the sake of it: I’ll do whatever it takes to give Hawkeye the happiness he deserves.

I can see them from here: my blonde Peggy and my black-haired Hawkeye (though, truth be told, the white strands are increasing; in the summer, when he came to California, there were two or three—now, there are ten or twenty). He’s dreaming again, tossing and turning.

I’d better go. It’s easier if I’m there when he wakes, whether it’s Carlye or Korea that haunts him.

* * *

Wednesday, mid-morning. We’ve decided to take a half day off from driving—a chance to get some rest and a break from being in the car. There’s a playground just across the road, and Peggy’s taken Erin across there now.

Last night was pretty terrible, as nights go. Hawkeye dozed, and dreamt, and woke up shaking, so often that I was nearly ready to scream. He did manage to tell us what they were about, mostly, but there seemed to be nothing we could do to break the cycle. It’s on the ‘time to call Sidney’ borderline, though I suspect that all Sidney will be able to suggest is ‘be patient, stay with him’.

It’s not easy—he’s asleep now, and in under half an hour I expect I’ll be over there again, trying to make it okay. The dreams are muddled, nothing clear. I think even he can’t pick out which memories are which: he’s hiding in the Swamp, waiting for his father; he’s in surgery, operating on Carlye; he’s being shelled, and his mother is there.

Little bits of the childhood we stirred up talking yesterday, the childhood I think he’d repressed fairly thoroughly, of Korea, that he hasn’t had time to process, and things left over from Carlye’s time in his life are all mixing themselves up and compounding each other.

There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel, though. He isn’t dreaming about Trapper any more… but he is dreaming—I can hear him starting to thrash about. I’d better stop writing.//

* * *

BJ had discovered in the early days of their relationship that the best way to calm Hawkeye as he woke from a nightmare was to hold him as close as possible, and to stay there until it was actually impossible not to move. It worked, it was simple, and it was easy.

It had disadvantages, but they weren’t that bad. Sometimes, they could be turned into advantages: the whole ‘pressed full length against your lover’ thing could work either way.

At first, the nightmare was violent, and BJ’s efforts to hold Hawkeye were mostly rewarded with elbows in uncomfortable places. Gradually, Hawkeye quieted, though he didn’t wake, and BJ was able to lie there, arms wrapped around him. He talked in his sleep: nothing major, just a few words now and then, and BJ wondered what the dream was about.

“No,” he muttered. “That’s not right,” and then, “Where are you? Don’t leave.”

“I’m here, Hawkeye,” BJ said, hoping the tone, if not the words, would get through. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Stay,” Hawkeye pleaded, twisting in BJ’s grasp. “Please. Stay.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” BJ repeated, and tightened his grip. Hawkeye struggled for a moment, his eyes opening.


“I’m here. It’s alright, Hawkeye. You were dreaming.”

He relaxed, almost melting into BJ’s body.

BJ hugged him again. “Can you tell me what it was about?”

Hawkeye took a deep breath, and answered, “Carlye. We were in Korea, being shelled. And then she… she turned into mom, and left.”

“It was a dream—it’s over now.”

“I know.” Hawkeye returned BJ’s squeeze, before adding, also under his breath, “You won’t go, will you?”

“I don’t plan on leaving,” BJ replied.

When Peggy came back because Erin needed her lunch, she had to wake them.

* * *

//Thursday evening. Another long day of driving. Hawkeye is a little better (we all actually slept last night, and he’s asleep again now, peacefully enough).//

* * *

“We’ll be arriving tomorrow afternoon, BJ,” Peggy said. “I hope Hawkeye’s going to cope okay.”

“I think he will. We’ve done everything we can—he’s not ready, as such, but he’s as prepared as he’ll ever be.”

“I just wish it wasn’t quite so soon after everything else.”

“Peg, remember it’s a choice, of sorts. If he can’t cope with telling his father, he won’t.”

“And if Hawkeye tells him and *he* can’t cope?”

“Then we give him our ‘official’ version—that Hawkeye’s been offered a job in California (which Rossi has) and would be better to go back to work, and then we’ll get our Hawkeye out of there as fast as possible.”

Peggy grinned. “You’re good at this sort of thing, love.”

“Blame the army,” BJ told her, returning the grin.

* * *

It was raining on Friday afternoon as they arrived in Crabapple Cove.

“There it is!” Hawkeye pointed at a small house, half way up the hill. “If you can see it in this weather. That’s Dad’s house, and the one opposite is the Mrs Ingram’s. I wonder which one they’ll live in?”

BJ stopped the car in the drive. “So, here we are. Ready?”

“Yes!” Erin shouted, and started trying to undo the door.

More slowly, Hawkeye replied, “I guess so. Let’s see, shall we?”

He dashed for the front door, and knocked.

There was no response.

“Dad?” he shouted. “Dad, are you there?”

Still no reply.

“I bet they’re at Ella’s,” he said to Peggy and BJ as he passed the car. “Let’s try across the road.”

This time, the knock was answered. Katherine opened the door almost at once.

For a moment, she just stood there, her face a picture of wide-eyed surprise, and then she cried, “Hawkeye!”

“That’s me,” he grinned.

“Hawkeye! You’re back!”


She hugged him, then—catching sight of Peggy and BJ over his shoulder—said, “And friends as well! I’ll call the others.”

“Dad and Ella?”

“And Joe.”

“Joe—Joe Gold of Reindeer Sledge fame?”

“That’s the one.” She giggled. “I married him, while you were in Korea. Didn’t your dad tell you?”

“I knew you’d married, but not who. Joe! Well, your choice.”

“You were in Boston when we got back from visiting his family—they’re in Iowa—or you’ve have heard then. And he’s nice to me.”

“He’d better be.”

“Just come in, Hawkeye. And your friends, too.” She led the way into the house, calling, “Mom! Daniel! Joe!”

In a couple of minutes, everyone was gathered in the living room. Peggy studied the people as Hawkeye introduced them: Katherine and Ella were clearly family, with the same dark curls and brown eyes, and Katherine’s younger daughter, Susan, about the same age as Erin, also had her mother’s hair, but her father’s cheerful (if, to Peggy’s mind, none too intelligent) green eyes. The older girl, Jessica, was quiet, reading in the corner and mostly pretending to ignore what was going on.

Daniel was a surprise: she’d been expecting, somehow, an older version of Hawkeye, and the short man, with thin red hair and pale blue eyes, didn’t seem to fit. Later, in looking around in Daniel’s house, she’d stumble across a picture of Doreen, and realise that Hawkeye had, almost entirely, his mother’s looks—which would explain, in part, Daniel’s mixed look of happiness and grief at seeing his son again.

She also noted that Hawkeye didn’t try to explain why she and BJ were there, just gave their names and a few simple facts about them, mostly based around ‘BJ was with me in Korea’.

“Well, it’s good to meet you at last. I’ve read plenty about you—especially BJ,” Daniel said. “I don’t know where you’re going to sleep, though.”

“Don’t be silly, Daniel,” Ella admonished, with a slight smile. “We’ve got two perfectly good houses, there’s masses of room. You’re all welcome to dinner here tonight, and then you can sleep here or over the road. Although I think we might want Erin and Susan to be in separate houses—they look set to cause trouble.”

“Thank you, Mrs Ingram, and yes, they do. They’re getting on nearly too well.” Peggy said, since the remark about Erin seemed to be addressed to her.

“You’re welcome, Mrs Hunnicutt. Katherine, we’d better go on, if we’re to give all our guests a proper meal.”

“I’ll help,” Peggy offered.

“Don’t be silly, you’re a guest.”

“I don’t want to be sitting around. Really, I’d like to.”

“If you insist, then. Daniel, you can take some blankets out of the airing cupboard to make up your spare beds. I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

Daniel nodded. “Yes, dear.” She kissed his forehead on the way out.

“Hawkeye, I could use an extra pair of hands. If Joe and BJ don’t mind being left with the kids, we’ll go and see about taking blankets across the road.”

“Sure,” Hawkeye said.

“We won’t be long,” Daniel told BJ and Joe, and they left.

* * *

“Can you scrub potatoes, Peggy?” Ella requested. “Kathy, I need some onions chopped.”

“Sure,” the other women replied.

Once they’d started, they worked in silence for a few minutes, and then Katherine asked, “So, Peggy, what do you make of Hawkeye?”

Peggy squashed the urge to reply ‘a sandwich with BJ’, and said, “I like him. He’s gone through a lot, but he’s a good man.”

“Yeah,” Ella agreed, “He always was—well, mostly. There were one or two times when I wondered.”

“Childhood pranks?” Peggy enquired, hoping for more idea of what he might be teaching Erin in the future.

“He went in for practical jokes for a while,” Katherine told her. “I still use the salt-in-the-sugar bowl one when I want to confuse Joe and convince him I don’t need him in the kitchen.”

“No wonder Hawkeye gets on so well with BJ, then,” Peggy said. “He’s a lot like that.”

“Daniel can be, too. If you’re done with onions, Kathy, we need a little garlic chopped, too, and maybe some mint.”

“So that’s where Hawkeye gets it from.”

“Could well be, Peggy. I’m glad to hear he’s still mischievous—when I last saw him, when he was just back from the war, that all seemed to have left him.”

//So it was happening even when he was here,// Peggy thought. //He wasn’t happy. Sidney was right when he said that Hawkeye’s wrist-slashing attempt wasn’t about us.// Aloud, she said, “I think he’s recovered some of it, spending time with BJ.”

“We’d better watch out tomorrow, then,” Ella said, trying to sound glum. “Hawkeye and Daniel and BJ, all in high spirits, sounds like a bad combination.”

“Especially if there are alcoholic spirits involved,” Katherine put in. “I have a feeling that the whole wedding might descend into chaos.”

“We’ll try and prevent that,” Ella told her daughter. “But if it does, then it does. I shall just stand back and enjoy the sight.”

“I’m sure it’ll be okay,” Peggy said. “BJ does have some respect for the wedding service—at least, he was so nervous at ours we didn’t have anything silly going on—so with luck, Daniel’s nerves and BJ’s respect will keep them a little in line.”

“We can hope,” Katherine nodded. “Mom, shall I chop carrots as well?”

* * *

In the house across the road, Hawkeye and his father started making the beds. “Throw me that sheet, will you?” Daniel asked.

Hawkeye did so, and his sleeve slid a little up his arm. “What happened to your wrist, son? Are those scars?”

“Err…” Hawkeye said, suddenly scared. The moment to tell had arrived, and he nearly panicked.

Daniel moved around the bed, and grasped Hawkeye’s left hand. “Three scalpel cuts, neatly stitched? What on earth?” He took his son’s other hand. “And three more here. Hawkeye, what happened to you?”

“Dad…” Hawkeye tried to begin, but there was just so much to explain.

“Sit down,” Daniel said, guiding Hawkeye onto the bed and sitting beside him. “Tell me—what happened?”

“Me,” Hawkeye managed.

“You? What do you mean?”

“Me. My scalpel. I cut myself.”

“Six cuts? That deep? You tried to kill yourself?”

Hawkeye nodded, silent and staring at the floor.

“Hawkeye, why?”

“I couldn’t do it. I can’t do it, dad. Can’t stay here. Can’t have children. It’s—I don’t want to be what you want me to be.”

“Now, when did I ever try and tell you what to be? I want you to be happy, that’s all.”

“And what do you mean by that?” Hawkeye asked, bitterly, pulling his hands away and standing up. “ ‘Happy’ is married! ‘Happy’ is children, and your practice, and staying here!”

“Well, yes,” Daniel replied, puzzled. “Isn’t that what will make you happy?”

“No, actually, it isn’t!” Hawkeye yelled. “It isn’t at all! And you know why? Because nobody here ever tries to improve things! They settle for what they’ve got! When someone dies, they say, ‘Well, it was bound to happen sometime.’ They don’t marry the person they fall in love with—they find someone their parents would approve of! Nobody from Crabapple Cove ever invented anything!”

“Calm down, please, Hawkeye.”

“Calm down! That’s what you used to say to mom, whenever she tried to change anything! You accepted what your dad said, and married her, and you hated it, but you couldn’t change it, so you didn’t want her to be any happier either!”

“Hawkeye, don’t talk like that!” Daniel said, standing. “It’s not true and you know it. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but you’re clearly not well. Now, calm down, please.”

“No, dad. I’ll stop shouting if you like, but I won’t ‘calm down’. I found a place I can call home, and it isn’t here. I don’t want to get married, and you can give up on the idea of grandchildren. I’ve got no desire to contribute to the next generation of draftees.”

Daniel took a deep breath. “Hawkeye, is that going to make you happy? Rebelling for the sake of it? I know you’ve always been a rebel, but if you want to stop and settle down, that’s fine with me.”

“Is that what you think this is? Rebelling for rebelling’s sake? Dad, I’ve fallen in love! I’ve found a home!”

“Hawkeye, please sit down again, and try to make sense.” Hawkeye sat. “Okay, let me try to follow this. You’ve fallen in love but you don’t want to get married? Who is she?”

Hawkeye looked into his father’s brown eyes and tried to reply, ‘He’s married already’, but couldn’t do it. “I can’t tell you,” he said after a pause.

“Why not? Look, Hawkeye, if she’s married to someone else, you’d better stay here. I don’t want you in trouble. If she’s… oh, God. Not your friend’s wife—err, Peggy?”

Trapped, Hawkeye couldn’t reply. If he said yes, that would be true, but not all the truth; if he said no, it would be a lie.

“If it is, you’re in deep trouble. These things always come out, you know.”

“Dad?” Hawkeye asked, quietly, and looked down at the carpet.

“Yes? What is it?”

“Do you still love me?”

“Of course. You’re my son, Hawkeye, I’d love you even if you were black or homosexual.”

Hawkeye had started to relax, reassured, but he froze stiff when he heard the final word. Daniel, watching him carefully, saw the change and drew a conclusion.

He gasped. “Hawkeye? You’re not trying to tell me you…”

Hawkeye nodded, and suddenly the words came tumbling out. “BJ. It’s alright, Peggy knows, she’s okay with it. I want to go and live in California with them. That’s why I was so miserable when I was here—I hated being away from him.”

“And you slashed your wrists because…”

“I had to know what would happen.”

“Hawkeye, that’s insane. You slashed your wrists as an *experiment*!”

“Sort of. I wanted to get rid of the war inside me.”


“You don’t understand. You can’t. You’ve never been out there, being fired on. BJ nearly gets it, I think. He found me and made it okay.”

“Hawkeye,” Daniel said slowly, “I don’t know what to make of this.”

“Just don’t hate me.”

“I think I’ll manage that. Especially if you help me finish making this bed.”

Hawkeye smiled, and they went on with the work.

In the next room, Daniel said, “How many people know?”

“Some army friends—Trapper, Sidney, Radar might have guessed. That’s about all.”

“You said Peggy, earlier.”

“Yeah, but—she, she’s a special case,” Hawkeye said, uncomfortably.

“What do you mean?”

“She—BJ still loves her, too. And I…”

“Two doctors can work out how to fit three people in a bed?”


Daniel laughed, long and low. “Well, who’d’ve thought it. Look, Hawkeye, I don’t want Ella to have to deal with this. I’ll keep quiet and so will you and the others, right?”

Hawkeye nodded. “What about Katherine?”

“Better not to tell her. She’d most likely tell Ella.”

“Are you sure? I want her to know I’m okay.”

“She needn’t know there was ever anything wrong. Have you got any other reasons for moving to California?”

“Not really. Unless you mention Rossi.”


“A surgeon. I’ve never seen him work, but I suspect he’s not a good surgeon. He’s heard of my reputation from Korea and he keeps offering me a job.”

“That’ll do. You’re moving because you’ve been offered a job out there. That’s all anyone needs to know.”

“Okay,” Hawkeye said, sadly, wishing that he could shout it from the rooftops like every other Tom, Dick and Harry who fell in love with an ordinary girl.

* * *

After dinner that evening, Hawkeye said, “The rain’s stopped. I’m going for a walk.”

“I’ll come with you,” BJ offered. “You can show me some of these places you’re always talking about.”

Ella grinned. “And Peggy. She’s been asking about things all afternoon.”

“I can wait,” Peggy said. “I’ll help with the washing up.”

“No, you go out. You’ve done enough to help,” Katherine told her.

“Okay. Where’s Erin?”

“She’s upstairs with Susan,” Daniel said. “I think they’re playing dolls together. You go on out.”

BJ grinned. “You’re outnumbered, Peggy. Come with us.”

“Alright, alright,” Peggy held up her hands. “I’ll come.”

* * *

They walked along the damp street in the cold evening air. The sun was just going down, gilding the houses as it went.

In such a public place, it wasn’t safe for all three to touch, so for Hawkeye’s sake they walked without holding hands. He led them down the road to a small wooden gate. “The back way into the churchyard,” he explained, without saying why he was taking them there.

Through the gate, they found themselves in a small wooded area, hidden from the surrounding houses by evergreen trees, and dotted about with gravestones. Hawkeye seemed to have forgotten that he wasn’t alone.

BJ started to walk faster, trying to keep up, but Peggy caught his arm. “Give him some space. We’ll follow,” she said, softly.

She was right—Hawkeye strode several hundreds yards, and then stopped in front of a small headstone, carved out of the local rock.

“Mom,” he said, softly. Peggy and BJ caught up, and she was about to read the inscription: ‘Doreen Pierce, loving wife and mother. Died 17th March, 1936. Rest in peace.’

“Mom,” Hawkeye repeated. Both and BJ saw the tear start to roll down his cheek. They stepped closer to him, one on each side. BJ put his arm across Hawkeye’s shoulders. Peggy checked that no one could see them, and then slid her arm around his waist. 

They stood like that for a long time, while Hawkeye wept and the sun disappeared.

* * *

//Friday night. We’re here; we’ve met the family. Hawkeye’s sister-in-law-to-be, Katherine, has two daughters, one of whom has taken Erin firmly in hand; more trouble, I fear, but I’m sure we’ll find a way to cope.

Hawkeye took us down to his mother’s grave this evening. It’s a lovely spot, quiet and peaceful, and it seems to have helped him. Either he’s told his father what’s going on, or he’s done some very subtle manoeuvring: Peggy and I are in the room next to his. Erin’s is just after that, and Daniel is across the hallway, but if Hawkeye had a nightmare we’d hear him.

That’s lucky—I was afraid I might end up lying in bed listening to him thrash about and be unable to go to him.

Anyway, it seems Hawkeye was right. Like the lobsters he compared them to, these people don’t look for things that shouldn’t be there, and they wouldn’t see him in love with me and Peggy unless it was pointed out to them. I don’t think being here is making him happy, so we’ll probably leave as soon after the wedding as we can without being rude, but it’s clearly better to have come than not.//

* * *

Crabapple Cove Courier, 19th December 1954.

Dr Daniel Pierce married Mrs Ella Ingram (widowed) in St. Michael’s Church this Saturday. The bride wore a stunning dress of white satin, and the congregation was large and in fine voice. Moments of chaos did occur when it was discovered that water pistols had been hidden in the flower arrangements (made by Ella’s daughter, Katherine Gold), but all was quickly calmed. Readers may be interested to know that our town doctor returns from his honeymoon in two weeks’ time.


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