Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
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Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., June 10, 1885.DEAR FRIENDS: "History," George Eliot tells us, "is apt to repeat itself, and to foist very old incidents upon us with only a slight change of costume." Here is a new history for you, all who were once "Seminary girls;" and as she who has tarried so long under the old home-roof sits down to write it for the absent sisterhood, she wonders if she can change the costume of the old story enough to give it any new charm. But why need she? The charm lies in the old story itself; you enjoy the journal-letter chiefly because it does "foist very old incidents upon" your memory and make you girls again. A part of this day's story is that it is Miss Shattuck's birthday. Most of you remember her as your own teacher and friend, and would gladly offer your congratulations. She seems to us in better health than she has been in some past years, though she was quite ill at the home of Dr. Paine in Albany, during the last vacation and three weeks of this term. That winter trip to New Orleans was too much for her and for Miss Edwards also, though both enjoyed it greatly. The north wing parlor they share together, and each has a sunny bedroom on the opposite side of the hall. Mrs. Foster's room is near theirs. She will be seventy years old if she lives until the twentieth of next January, but is remarkably efficient and energetic, looking well to the ways of the women who clean the house in the long vacation, and busy all the year in providing for our warmth and comfort by night, and cleanliness and order by day. So many of you remember her kindnesses at some time within the twenty-one years of her stay here that you will be glad to get this word about her.
But if you were here today, this rare June Wednesday, your first thoughts might be for the beauty out of doors rather than for friends within. Can we help you to see it? Walk with us up the winding foot-path to our pretty pavilion in Goodnow Park on Prospect Hill. How beautiful the noble avenues of trees that used to bound our grounds; the little brook and quiet pond where the boats "float double," boat "and shadow;" the old chestnuts around us, and the infant trees for our future groves; the picturesque old cider-mill on one side and grist-mill on the other; the encircling bills, and the gates ajar between Holyoke and Tom to let the sunset glory through. Descend by the carriage-road that winds up from the brook toward the South and around the pavilion at the summit of the hill. The meadow is full of buttercups and daisies as of old, and the little foot-bridge by the wheel-house is the same, but the boat-house below is a new resident, and in the basin above the bridge there will soon be a fair white host of water-lilies. Pause awhile, if you will, among the sweets of the botanical garden, then ascend the hill and cross the grass to Miss Lyon's grave.
The English ivy, which covers the ground of the enclosure, is somewhat winter-killed each year, but makes afresh a rich green carpet each summer. How beautiful this little grove and how merry the occupants of the hammocks and the grass beneath its shade I Answering voices float up to us from the boats on the water, and across the grass from the lawn-tennis players, a little beyond and in front of Williston Hall, over whom droop the branches of the great black-walnut tree, the royal resident on our domains. A little nearer us, victors and vanquished are laughing over a game of croquet. Girls are scattered about the grounds, singly or in groups, busy with book or needle work or pleasant chat, and we know they are taking in fresh life for nerve
and heart and brain. Sweet re-creation days in field and wood and on these beautiful grounds! They must be, beyond our power to estimate, "faire gospellers" of peace. Even the walk from the house over to Williston Hall must compose one's mind for a recitation there! The supper-bell calls; the evening brings all home to quiet hours and hours of sleep, from which we wake into a study-day world. Will you stay through its hours?
There is no bell in the morning until the rising-bell, which is somewhat tardy in rising itself, according to the old standard, and has a subdued tone of voice as if afraid it may wake somebody. Girls must be prompt at breakfast and quite ready for it, but they may choose their own time of rising, if it be not too early!
Look about in the basement a little, after breakfast. The elevator, you remember, cuts out one corner of the middle room, and the bread-closet occupies another. The bread-cutter close at hand, the great oven in the domestic hall; the closet built against the oven, with rows of shelves whereon all our bread is placed to rise and kept moist by a tiny spray of steam; the big broiler for steak; the old Rumford oven converted into a great plate-warmer; the steam-kettles which give us so easily the quantity of coffee or chocolate or soup for so many thirsty mouths; the soap-stone sinks for dish washing; the flour-sifter; the three refrigerators for butter, for milk, for other food; all these make work easier or furnish our table more healthfully, and something is brought in every year to these ends. The bell for morning devotions calls us to the Seminary Hall, made very attractive now by the furnishings of a few years past. Miss Lyon, Miss Fisk, Miss Hopkins, Mrs. Eddy, Deacon and Mrs. Porter, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Williston, look down upon us from the walls, and choice photographs are there besides. Miss Edwards is our preacher, and we doubt if many pulpits are filled more acceptably. Can girls go away without receiving life-long impressions for good from that desk? We have responsive Scripture readings in these morning exercises, and it is surely nowhere better done; the many voices are as one. The half-hour over, let us go first into a botany class in Williston Hall. A lesson has been assigned from the text-book, but a part of the hour will be occupied by a lecture on the same topic, giving what the book does not. Notes must be taken and reported the next day, when they have also a lesson on another assigned subject. One side of the recitation-room is taken up by the cases and drawers of the great herbarium; botanical specimens of various kinds, that are hung all over the other walls, make the room as bright as a gallery of paintings. Little tables are here whereon to use the dozen dissecting microscopes and to make the drawings required. The great workroom of these classes is the world in the open air, and especially the botanical garden, where you may see them at almost any hour of the day, intent on finding out all the family secrets of the garden dwellers. You know, I think, that a part of their required study comes in the autumn, for the sake of " the golden rod on the hill, and the aster in the wood, and the yellow sunflower by the brook," and others of their kin. The recitation over, the bell-glasses are removed from the compound microscopes on the shelves by the windows, and the "spirogyra" girls are at them. Miss Hooker calls them so because they are doing some of the same kind of work that so-called students in German universities begin with; that is, studying the lowest forms of vegetable life. "Spirogyra" sounds better than "frog-spittle," certainly. These girls were at work all winter, using dried specimens, or mosses, ferns, and lower plants from Wardian cases. The life-history of the fern, tracing its development from the spore, making drawings of all stages of growth, cutting sections of stems to study tissues, analyzing all the North American ferns they can obtain, following out much the same plan in the study of mosses and grasses - this has been the work of most of them. One Saturday we were summoned excitedly by a radiant student to see something which the microscope had caught just at the right moment - moss antherozoids in motion - a rare sight. We wish we could explain it all to you who have never seen for yourselves.
Hasty feet sped over to Williston Hall as long as the show lasted, but an irregular procession of girls was moving in an opposite direction at the same time, for the mighty Sol was greatly disturbed, and they went to the observatory to witness the "prominences" which were unusual and wonderful in variety and form. The infinitesimal and the vast, too small, too large for our limited eyes to see, were brought curiously near together before our awed and admiring gaze that day. The observatory work is in the hands of an enthusiastic student who does all she can to make the "spacious firmament" itself an illustrated text-book for her classes. The recitation-room is the portion of the observatory nearest you as you see it in the picture in the cataloguer which tells you of the perfect equipment of the building for its uses. One may well wish to be a pupil again for the sake of such an attractive place, and the nightly visions, when clouds retire, of "other worlds than ours." Miss Bardwell and Miss Mack made very careful observations and records of the solar eclipse last March, which were sent to Prof. Young, who thought them of sufficient value to have a place with other reports of eclipse observations, in the Sidereal Messenger, a monthly devoted wholly to astronomical intelligence.
Now let us turn from "the heavens above" to "the earth beneath," with the zoology class. They're intent on earth-worms today, "a good typical form;" the general anatomy, the structure, the development, as revealed by the microscope) are studied thoroughly. Another day we should find them at work on clams or on lobsters in the same way; up-stairs, in the bird alcove, we shall find others analyzing unmounted birds, kept for such use. Come to the work-room in the basement and see what some of the "advanced" students are about. It must be the medically inclined who enjoy so much these dissections. They are required to make many drawings, as well as the students in the regular classes. One has mounted the skeleton of a cat, going through every step of the process herself, and it looks better than the model from the Amherst cabinet. Frogs are thinned and lengthened amazingly in the same manner. Miss Clapp's "retainers" and offerings are many. The ferryman sends tidings of a cuckoo's nest by the ferry; one boy brings very large earth-worms, another some field-mice or a snake or a bird's nest; three infant rabbits, ploughed up in a field, have afforded us all much amusement. Observations in the quadrangle lead to the belief that every girl in school has been laid under bonds to bring a mud-turtle there, whose end is biology. And a cat sometimes comes - alas, poor pussy! The zoology room is used by the physiology classes also - did you notice the models, really beautiful in their way, of eye and ear and throat? A girl has admirable opportunity to study comparative anatomy from the skeleton and manikin here and the dissections in that basement room. There are no recitations in physics or chemistry this term, so we will leave the laboratories and apparatus, with their conveniences and advantages, until another time, and go for a few moments to the rooms for geology and mineralogy. One wants a long time to see the treasures in the five rooms, but perhaps the greatest of them in the eyes of Miss Cowles, at present, is the lithological microscope in her class-room, so lately given by the Worcester Alumnae Association. She had an enthusiastic class in mineralogy through the winter, who took it as an optional, and they enjoyed greatly the crystallography which the microscope helped them to know. Looking into that tube sometimes was like reading the last chapter of the Revelation, and one forgot science in such visions of splendor and purity.
We want to take you over to our two-year-old house for drawing and music the old Dwight place. You may stop to admire the smooth-shaven lawn between it and the Seminary, unbroken save by trees and shrubs and one wide concrete walk. In the house are four music-rooms, and this whole upper front is the room for drawing. The pupils do a great deal of charcoal-work; here are some lovely little landscapes, taken from nature; many are copying from casts; some are making portraits from photographs or from life. Coming back to the great house, let us step into the elevator and go
up to the rooms for painting, at the north end of the upper floor. The work is done in both oils and water-colors, and is mostly fruit and flower painting. There are exhibitions in these and in the room for drawing on anniversary week, and visitors find that more and better work is done in both these departments than the modest mention of them in the catalogue would lead one to believe.
It is time for us to descend from high art to our dinner in the basement, Vet we think you will agree with us that something of high art has been here also, in the making of this delicious bread and biscuit, if in nothing else. The girls made it all, and they have prepared all this dinner under the supervision of the genial and considerate matron, who finds them almost always " most helpful and pleasant to work with." And they will have a good time over the hated dish-washing by and by; if you don't believe it, stay one day after dinner and use your eyes and ears. But they will not do all the work that their mothers did when here, neither will they on Wednesday. It has seemed best to make changes from time to time, giving some of the harder parts of the domestic work into the hands of women who come in from the village; the man who took the place of Cornelius gives all his time to the baker's and other kitchen work; the "moping circle" that a girl once wrote home about, is a thing of the past, unless the use of a dish-mop entitles one to a place in it. There is still abundant opportunity to learn promptness, efficiency, and care-taking for the common good. Newspaper and magazine articles, and cooking-schools for the wealthier classes are at one with Seminary teachings more than ever, now, in dignifying housework by bringing into prominence its scientific and aesthetic aspects; we want these girls to enter also into the higher spirit that says with George Herbert,
Makes that, and the action fine."
If the English Literature class is discussing Lady Macbeth's or Portia's character, we think we can promise you some bright and discerning remarks of their own, not the commentators; if they give vou some of Bacon's Essays in their own or in his words, you will be glad that they have such weighty antidotes to the light reading which most girls take in such large and frequent draughts. It is an encouraging symptom in these cases that they do take and enjoy the antidote so well.
Since on making this visit to us, you have laid aside "the prejudice in favor of taking the body with you," you are able, of course, to visit any number of classes; you can hear the original demonstrations in Geometry; the attempts at speech and the successes of the would-be French and German girls, compelled to close attention by having not a word of English to help them in their efforts to understand and be understood; the talk about the last amendment to the Constitution or the aspects of the Indian question in the class in civil government; and - O "most potent, grave, and reverend" Seniors, forgive us our seeming neglect-the animated discussion on some question in moral science or the "peculiarly-fit topic" from Butler.
In the half-hour after recitations are over, let us go into a choral class, and listen to the noble chords of which we never tire, in such anthems as "I waited for the Lord," or "O rest in the Lord," or to some sweet Ave Maria, or a gay song, equally well rendered in its way. The bell rings for "sections." You remember the first thing in order, and you miss a number of familiar sentences if you've been away some years. Changes have been made from year to year which have lessened the number of family regulations, or made some requested rather than required, but you'll not be sorry if assured that abun-
dant quiet is still secured for study and sleep and the "still hour," and punctuality everywhere no less insisted on. " Hall exercise" follows, not always, as a matter of course, sometimes very short or omitted entirely, if there is an extra engagement for the evening. Before and after supper you will want to pay visits to the reading-room and the parlors of whose new furnishings and beauty we wrote you a year ago. We have enjoyed them thoroughly. On Thursday evening, as of old, comes the family gathering for prayer in the Seminary Hall; on Tuesday evening, a general recess-meeting in the lecture-room, always conducted by Miss Shattuck; on other evenings the little recess-meeting - "sweet hour of prayer." How very few of all Holyoke's daughters to whom the name does not recall some of the tenderest and most sacred hours of life, when " Heaven came down our souls to greet." Dear sisters all, "though sundered far," gather often, we pray you, " around one common mercy-seat " to ask that the recess-meeting and the " half-hour " may be held sacred always and prized as the most valuable hours of these student-days, and as those which have done most to make Mt. Holyoke Seminary what she has been.
We have left little room to tell you of events outside the ordinary routine of our winter and summer life. Miss Parsons wrote to you of the illness of Mrs. Bridgman, wife of our trustee; we came back from our Christmas vacation to learn that the " gentle dignity and womanliness" which we all felt and loved, would be only a helpful and sweet memory henceforth. Her mantle has fallen upon her daughter. Near the middle of the term, one of our most promising girls was taken from us after a very short and severe illness from peritonitis. She had been very happy here, the ardent desire of years had been fulfilled in her coming, but she was all ready for "that school where Christ himself doth rule," and he called her to her place prepared, to give her far beyond the measure of her desires, though not beyond their spirit. The whole of Mr. Whittier's poem, "Gone," so singularly applicable to dear Hattie Hutchins and to the circumstances of her death, seemed written of Lena Church also.
Forewarned us of decay."
"We read her face as one who reads
Prof. Young came to us early in the winter to give his lectures in Astronomy. He is always most heartily welcomed as a friend - he makes a sunshine, too-and we appreciate our privileges in hearing of the wonders of the heavens from lips of such authority. We had one evening of delight in listening to the Ruggles Street Church Quartette from Boston. The " Sewrosis," of which you heard in the last journal-letter, gave us music and tableaux and Mrs. Jarley's wax-works one evening, in the gymnasium, in return for a small admission-fee which was used for their poor children. It was a very pretty entertainment, in good taste, and pleasing both to eye and ear. A few weeks after this term opened, in one of our family composition-readings, a Senior read in tragic tones,
The saddest are these - measles again!
few victims. One of them was our child Ella. Some of you, who have received only the resent journals, have asked, "Who are the little girls you speak of?" She with the blue eyes and light hair is Ella Mabel Wright, twelve years old, daughter of our matron. The brown eyes and dark hair belong to Charlotte Steele Fitch, ten years old, niece of our music-teacher, Miss Steele, who brought her here after the death of her parents. They are loving and lovable children, very fond of each other, and have grown to seem quite a necessary part of the household.
July 1. You have read of the man who, being asked on coming out of church if the sermon were done, replied, "O no, it is only said; none of it is done yet." Our sermons have all been said; the last recess-meeting and Bible lesson, the last words from our pastor in church and from Miss Edwards in the Hall, the last words of sweet counsel together have all come and gone, and our beautiful and beloved family is gone, and our house is left unto us desolate. But sermons have been done as well as said. They who have been longest here look back upon the year as one very rich in many ways. The spiritual blessings of the autumn time have been felt to the end; read again its story in the journal sent you last January. Anxious, troubled thoughts follow some of our girls; but as we gathered in the Hall for a brief word of farewell when we returned from church on anniversary day, and looked over the dear company, we could only feel heart-full of thankfulness for all they bad been to each other and to us, and of hopefulness for their future. Only six have gone away who have never expressed any hope in Christ, but they have not gone away from God's watchful love and care, and we must trust that those who have professed such hope, while seeming to possess little of its reality, will be quickened to bear fruit yet from seeds sown this year. Aside from our daily ministrations, earnest and impressive speakers have addressed us from time to time, and have been heard with deep interest. Dr. Powell represented the A. M. A.; Dr. Barrows, the A. H. M. S.; Rev. A. E. Winship, the N. W. E. C.; Mr. Wishard, the Inter-collegiate Y. M. C. A.; Mrs. Knapp and Mrs. Allen from Turkey, the foreign mission work. And on Wednesday morning of last week, Rev. Joseph Neesima, of Japan, spoke to us and to our guests, a pleasure and privilege we dared not expect though we had hoped for it a little. Our contributions to home and foreign mission work have been more than three hundred dollars in excess of last year's. We had a spirited temperance meeting very near the close of the term when much was said which we hope will be done in days to come. Prominent among the helps to our ordinary study were the lectures on Biology, a short time ago, by Prof. Wilson, of Williamstown, who was here last year also. He adds much to the fascination of the subject by his style, clear, yet greatly condensed.
Gifts have come to us again and again this year from former pupils; plants, collections of pressed flowers, coins, and minerals. Four Seminary girls have sent books of their own writing, remembering, perhaps, Emerson's saying, "The only gift is a portion of thyself." The class of '47 have sent framed carbon photographs of eleven of Rembrandt's most celebrated paintings, and the class of '56 a very beautiful copy of Guido's " Aurora," about eight feet by four in size. What wealth of color! You have seen, perhaps, newspaper notices of bequests that have been made to us. Most of that which came to us by the death of Mrs. Gridley, of Hartford, has been paid over. The trustees have set aside $20,000 from it for a general fund, and the remainder, which will be about $15,000, Will be used for needed extensions and repairs. Work is to be begun soon on an annex to the library building; its 11,300 volumes have made the place too strait for more. A bridge is soon to be built across our little brook near the boat-house for the carriage-road which winds up the hill in Goodnow Park. Mrs. Samuel Williston, of East Hampton, left the Seminary $3,000, and Miss Susan King, of Suffield, Conn., $1,000; the latter for the educational fund, the former not yet paid over nor appropriated. Mr. Lawrence, who has been our faithful steward for twenty years, has resigned his place to Mr. D. F. Phillips, of Columbus, O., brother of Rev. Geo. Phillips, of Worcester. His many duties were too
burdensome when added to his many years. The apartments that have been used by his family are to be for Seminary use hereafter, and Mrs. Lawrence leaves her pretty flower' beds to us. How we shall miss the sight of her among them, and the dropping in to her own room or her pleasant parlors for. a little talk. Many a girl has there found motherly counsel and sympathy and aid, and many a teacher restful hours and small kindnesses which were large. Our best wishes and our regrets go with Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence to a new home. May it be for many quietly happy years. Miss Ward is in her home in Lowell again after two years of absence spent mostly in California and the Hawaiian Islands. She is improved in health - we wish we could say more. Friends who have seen her think her looking well, but strength is long in coming.
Our story of anniversary week must be very short. Two weeks before, we listened to a concert given by the m ' usic pupils, which was certainly one of the best ever given here. The vocal and instrumental, solo and chorus, time, tune, and selections were such that we are sure impartial hearers would have been delighted. We had many musical selections during the days of anniversary week, but the evenings were occupied by the gymnastic exhibition, repeated three times so that all who wished, might see. It was indeed fascinating. Dr. Love's baccalaureate sermon was from the text, "I came not to send peace, but a sword;" his subject, the reforming power of the gospel. The sword is divine truth. Bishop Huntington's address on Thursday was on "The Law of Social Life and Woman as its Executor." We wish we had space to report both sermon and address for you.
You remember that Mrs. A. L. Williston and Miss Blanchard were added to the number of trustees last year, so our Principal, being in trustee meeting on Wednesday afternoon, could not attend Alumnae meeting, but three former Principals sat upon the platform. Mrs. Pease was not able to speak, but Mrs. Stoddard presided, and Mrs. Gulliver led us in prayer. The twenty-five-year-old class sat upon the front seats, twelve of the thirty-six now living being present. Mrs. Allen from Turkey, Miss Martha Price from Natal, and Miss Susan Howland from Ceylon, each gave us a few words of greeting, and how glad we were that they could be here I There were reports of secretary and treasurer and from several branch societies, by word of mouth or by letter, but not the least important part of the meeting was the discussion of the question, "What shall the children give to their Alma Mater on her fiftieth birthday?" The decision was made to raise a fund, to be called the Mary Lyon fund, for the endowment of the Principal's chair, and a committee was appointed to carry the decision into effect. Mrs. Gulliver proposed the raising of the fund, and has the matter very much at heart. If she has health sufficient, she intends to give much time to it, and will probably send a circular letter to you all, at no distant day, urging your attention and hearty cooperation, and giving the reason why such endowment is desirable and necessary. Would that this letter might be, in some degree, a "preparatory course" to hers! The part of it that tells you so much of the story of a day has been written in the hope that you will gain by it a more just idea of what Seminary life is now. A letter from an old pupil, referring to some young nieces or relatives, says, "They are rather delicate children, and I think Holyoke, as it was when I was there, is too hard for them." Dear friend, do you think that we have stood still all these years, so that everything is done just as it was thirty, twenty, even ten years ago? Miss Lyon would have made many changes-why not her successors? Many things which come to our knowledge from year to year make us feel that the absent daughters may do their Alma Mater injustice, unintentionally, by assuming in their own thoughts and in words to others that she has no progressive- spirit, that she is "behind the times." Why not inquire? Better still, come and see for yourselves; no letter can give you the pleasant impression you will thus receive. Many a frail girl comes to us who is better here than ever before. The provisions for out-of-door exercise, the healthful table, the well-warmed house in winter, the greater comforts in private rooms, the elevator, the changes in school and family regulations, the greater conveniences and helps in the domestic department, make student-life here such that very few girls who have been taught how to use good
sense in the care of themselves need be injured at all in health. None of you want any changes made which shall thwart any of the ends aimed at by Mary Lyon herself, and by us also in the daily education of these girls. "Holyoke graduates" have a world-wide reputation for punctuality, thoroughness, executive ability, and Christian consecration. Surely such characters have not been formed in spite of Seminary training! By her fruits ye know her. You will learn more about the changes if, school-work proper from the last catalogue, which has taken a new departure this year in explaining briefly the course and methods of study. We have referred to an " optional," but we have only one series of study that is really optional; all others should be called advanced study. No less than eighty girls have pursued such studies the past year, in the departments of literature, natural science, and mathematics. The small number in the senior class this year is partly accounted for by the fact that so many have taken extra time for study before the senior year. Next year's class promises to be quite large, and the number of applications for entrance is greater than at this time last year. We hope for d happy and prosperous year. There will be sonic changes of teachers: Miss Mack was called away a number of weeks ago by her mother's severe illness which still continues, so we cannot hope for her return at the beginning of the year. Dr. Heron wishes to visit her home in Jamaica, W. I., from which she has been absent many years, then to go abroad for further medical study, and our Dr. Richardson is so situated just now that she can come back to us for another year. Miss Bray, daughter of Emily Temple of the class Of '57, leaves us to go to Mardin, Turkey, and the Oxford Seminary loses one of its young teachers - Miss Blakely, daughter of Gertrude Sykes of the class of '53 - to go to Marash, Turkey, at the same time. Both schools are giving unto the Lord precious gifts; may both be visibly blessed therein another year.
Many inquiries have come from those who have heard that a circular letter is written for absent pupils, asking the price. It is sent to any who ask for it, but ten cents for each copy or twenty for the year is very near the cost. We should be glad to send to all in sealed envelopes, if the cost could be met, so many are lost when sent unsealed. We who are here do not want you to forget the Seminary and its interests, and is not a letter from home one of the surest ways to keep your hearts warm towards it? Will you send a card of acknowledgment if you receive this? Many letters have been received in answer to those sent out in March and December of last year which have been as cups of cold water; parts of them have been read to the teachers and sometimes a passage to the pupils. We wish there were more for the school to hear; send us reminiscences of your school-days here, and chapters from the story of your later life. The girls always listen with interest to such letters, and it is good for us all to get these messages from those who are of us though not with us. In two years - how soon the time will come -a book will be ready for you, which another of the sisterhood is writing, to tell you or remind you of the story of the past fifty years. What a gathering of the tribes there will be then I With feelings akin to those of the chosen people of old, our feet will stand within the gates of our Jerusalem. May we all exchange greetings then, unless we have already entered into greater joy within the gates of the Jerusalem above.
ELLEN P. BOWERS.
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