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pearance it submitted to its inevitable destiny. But his original aim—the regeneration of the native speech the wakening was at hand.

and literature of Provence-he has confined himself A gardener of Saint Remy in Provence, gave his son within limits which accorded well with a genius rather a French and classical education. The young man tender and pious than aspiring. Mistral has addressed came home with a stock of French poetry, and his him as “ Roumanille, thou who knowest how to weare mother was his first hearer. But alas ! she had never in thy melodies the tears of the people, the laughter of known much French; that little she had well-nigh for- young girls, and the flowers of spring!” Sympathy gotten. She could neither admire nor understand her

with the poor, the suffering, and the weak, is Roumason's juvenile verses. Saddened to feel this, saddened nille's strength, and poetry with him is not merely the too to know that the beautiful old Provençal speech | beauty of song; it is also a teaching. had lost the gift of song, young Roumanille resolved to This compassionate tenderness is very visible in one be a poet in his mother's tongue; he wrote for her, for of his most popular pieces, that entitled “ Les Crèches," the humble and the ignorant like her, and in writing literally " the Mangers," a title that requires explanafor them, it so happened that he wrote for the world, tion. and that a national feeling was awakened, not in hearts Some years ago, asylums for infants whose mothers more noble and true than his, but in minds greater and are obliged to leave them in order to go out and work, more powerful.

were founded over all France. The child placed there Will without genius can do much, but with genius in the morning and left to the care of nurses, is clained what can it not effect ? Roumanille's poems have been by the mother in the evening, when her work is done. translated into French, some even into German ; Au- In memory of the suffering childhood of our Lord, banel and Mistral, his disciples, men of education, who cradled in a manger, these asylums have been called could win success, fame and money, by writing in the les crèches, and Roumanille thus accounts for their origin. language of the conqueror, and who preferred their native conquered speech, have not merely produced

Amongst the choir of the Seraphim whom God has poems of infinite beauty which all France has hailed made to sing eternally, inebriated with love, 'Glory, glory with admiration and delight—they have done more, to the Father,' amongst the joys of paradise, one there they have prevailed over an obstinate prejudice deeply

was, an angel, who walked away pensive from the joyous

choristers. rooted in the minds of the ruling race, and unless Pro- “ And his brow white as snow was bent, like a summer vidence denies them worthy successors, they have assu- flower athirst for water. More and more pensive he beredly founded a new and splendid school of poetry.

came : if the heart could feel weariness when in the glory They have not done so without censure or opposition.

of God, I should say that the beautiful angel felt weary.

" What did he dream of thus by stealth? Why was he “Why write in Provençal, unless you mean to write es- not in the joyous gathering ? Why alone amongst the clusively for the ignorant amongst your countrymen ?" angels, and as if he had sinned, did he wear a downcast

brow? say some ; “since you can produce lyrics like Aubanel's, poems like Mistral's, let them be in French.” But apart

“Here he is! He has knelt before God. What will be from the national feeling which the Provençal poets

say--what will he do ? To see and to hear him his brethren avow, is the choice of a language a mere matter of in- have left off their Allelujah. difference? Few persons thoroughly acquainted with two languages will dare to say so. There are modes

““When the child Jesus wept, when he shivered with of thought, of feeling even, which belong to certain lan

cold in the stable of Bethlehem, it was my smile that conguages, and cannot be well expressed out of them. Can

soled him, my wing that brooded over him, my breath that English ever give, for instance, the luxurious oriental warmed him. imagery of our native Irish? Can we imagine that if

" • And now, O my God, when a little child weeps, his Shakspeare had known French as well as Racine himself,

voice echoes in my pious heart. Therefore, O Lord, does

my heart ever suffer; therefore am I thoughtful. he would have produced his wild and free dramas in that "'I have something to do upon earth, O my God; allow clear, elegant, courtly language? A great poet adds me to visit it again. There are, alas ! so many little chilto the wealth of a fine idiom, but who shall say how dren, poor lambs who, starved with the cold, lament far much that idiom suggests to genius? The attempt of

from the breast, far from the kisses of their mother. In

warm rooms I want to shelter them; I want to put them the Provençal poets is not merely patriotic, it is also

in cradles, and cover them well ; I want to nurse and rock judicious. Had they written in French they would them. Instead of one mother, I want them to have twenty, have been fettered and poor : they are rich and free in

who will send them to sleep.' that soft language, harmonious as one of the dialects of Italy, graceful and young, like a speech that has not

“The angels approved. He spread his wings ; swift as worn away its morning freshness in the worldly ways lightning the angel descended from heaven, and the mothers of men.

were thrilled with happiness, and the crèches opened wher:

ever the angel of little children passed.” The Provençal poets are already many, and their works are numerous. It will be sufficient to speak of There is little analogy between the sad, impassioned Roumanille, the founder of the school, and of Aubanel Aubanel-he who to use again Mistral's words, “ seeks and Mistral, his two most distinguished disciples. the dark coolness of woods and rivers, for his heart Roumanille is essentially the popular poet. Faithful to consumed with dreams of lowe,” — and the calm,




serene Roumanille; but the same spirit can speak through many voices; and if in one poet we have the childlike, Catholic faith of Provence, the other gives us her passion and her gloom. A volume entitled “ The Half-Open Pomegranate," the preface written by Mistral, with Roumanille for a publisher, is Aubanel's last production. It is also one of the most recent volumes of poems issued from the Provençal press, and it has appeared in the ancient city of the Popes, Avignon, which has not long been French in name, and is scarcely French yet in feeling.

It is a privilege to love well and truly, even though the love be not blest, and unhappy love can never be a calamity to a true poet.

A brown, dark-eyed Provençal girl crossed this poet's path ; but she was one of those whom human love cannot bind, and there came a day when she bade her poet farewell. “I will be a nun,” she said.

« Oh, woe to thee, darling,” he answers, " what hast thou said ?”

The parting is over, but not its bitterness; the forsaken lover never sees a brown, dark-eyed girl, but straight he thinks of his lost Zani.

"Grieving for my brown girl, a dark girl I met. Ever since my Zani, brown girls make me weep.

“Thy dark eyes, darker than thy black gown, have troubled me, O brown girl.

"Speak to me! What wilt thou say? Speak. My heart will listen ; speak, darling, make me smile. Oh! darling, make me weep.

“There is not another one like thee, O my beauty. And thy name is—Clara? No, thou art Zani-Zani the brown girl. Thou art the maiden for whom I have wept so long.”

But Zani is lost, lost for ever, and there are times when he knows it.

“Open the convent gates, O nuns, and let me in. Open, my soul is strong enough to see her, and not weep. Beneath thy white coif thou art browner and paler than ever. Like the angel of the hospital, thou passest amongst the sick in the great ward.”

An hospital ward is the end of " that rose amongst maidens,” at whose feet he could have spent

a lifetime kneeling." The brown, pale Zani tends strange sick, and her lover, striving to forget, wanders to strange lands. He seeks Italy, he sings Rome, her Corso and her red Colosseum ; but beyond the Campagna he sees a sun-burnt land, and the mas in the olive trees. Wherever he goes, Provence goes with him ; it is still Provence he sings, even as it was still Zani whom he saw and praised, whenever a brown girl with dark eyes came across his path.

A freer, happier genius is that of Mistral. He is still young, barely thirty: he lives on his own land in happy leisure and independence, and he could be a great French poet if he chose; for though ir bis dedication to Lamartine, it has pleased him to call himself peasant, M. Mistral is by birth, education and refinement, a gentleman. Fettered by no particular aim like Roumanille, darkened by no love sorrows like Aubanel, Mistral is a poet of the epic cast, with the true epic breadth and greatness.

Mireio is his great work. It is a love tale of the

south; of the people, life and scenery of Provence. It is the poetic story of an imaginative race, credulous, sarcastic, keen, and childlike in its faults and virtues, emphatic, moreover, and given to exaggeration and all flights of speech, like the half Oriental Celts. It is the vivid picture of modern pastoral life in the south, of a sunburnt fertile land, where breadth of earth and sky often stand instead of beauty; where the Greek and the Roman have left the ruins of their cities and arenas, and to which the saints and the martyrs of the early church have bequeathed lovely histories and hallowed graves. The traces of this mixed origin are not yet lost. The delicate beauty of the women of Arles has passed into a proverb. The men and women of Marseilles, the ancient Massillia, a Phocean colony, then a Roman conquest, are remarkable to this day for the Greek purity of their features. The Roman arena of Nîmes is still used for popular games, which, if more peaceful than those of the ancient gladiators, rouse almost as much the passions of an excitable and vehement race. On this classic background appear the fancy, the graceful wildness, the deep faith, the dark and often savage traditions of the middle ages; and after them, the religious dissensions, the political passions, the commerce and the agricultural prosperity of more modern times.

The very aspect of Provence suits all the phases of her history. Her yellow Roman ruins crumble slowly beneath a cloudless sky. The sunlit waves of the Mediterranean, that sea which knows no tide, flow into the salt plains of vast, arid, and melancholy shores : shores which the Greek, the Roman, the northern barbarian and the Saracen have trod, which have seen their empire decay, and seem to wear the very seal of time. Her seaports face Africa, and speak of prosperity and world-spreading commerce; all the Oriental races meet at the great yearly fair of Beaugaire ; her inland towns, mean and half eastery, are made for outdoor life. The popular festivals-religious and grotesque—the pil

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which has died out of the colder north, but survives wherever the sun yet reigns. And the sun ripens the wealth of Provence, a wealth beyond man's power. The olive, the mulberry, the vine, the fig-tree, the orange and the citron, give oil, silk, wine and delicious fruit to the north of France. Yet how parched and barren looks that fertile soil. The bluish foliage of the olive, the perennial green of the orange and the lemon, mingle around the white Mas or farm ; but you may cross wide plains that seem given up to wild herds and the burning sun, and that appear to know neither man nor man's toil. The white horizon of the sea, the rapid and swollen Rhone, the steep mountains of the Cevennes, the Italian Alps guard that arid-looking land.

Behind those fastnesses of rocks, crested with ruined keeps, linger the only powerful remnant of the southern Protestants, still mindful of a cruel past. Religious animosity–which is unknown in Celtic Brittany, because it is all Catholic, in Central France because it is indifferent and cold-has not yet lost its bitterness in the

south, where Catholic and Calvinist live, grow, and die apart, like two separate races.

This last feature alone is omitted in Mireio. It was not required by local truth, and it must have detracted from the generous warmth of this fine pastoral epic. But nothing else is wanted. There is not a verse, not a stanza of Mireio, but is racy of the soil in its brilliancy, wit, tenderness, and fervour. The poet has shrunk from nothing. The most homely customs, the popular games in all their simplicity, southern love in its frankness, innocent, but natural and easily confessed, are painted with a vigorous freshness that effaces the very idea of vulgarity or harm.

The characters of the tale are selected on the same broad principle. A farmer's daughter is the heroine, a poor basket-maker's son the hero; a few old peasants, a herdsman, a shepherd, reapers, fishermen, girls who gather mulberry leaves for the silk-worm, help on the story, and prove once more the eternal, but seldom acted on truth, that largeness in painting, not ambitious selection, give dignity to a subject. The kings and chiefs of Homer himself are not more noble and manly than a few Provençal peasants. As for Mireio, she is one of the most charming creatures poet ever sang. She is young, lovely, frolicsome, and wild. She is witty, frank, merry, and true. She has a warm heart, dark hair, and dewy eyes. "Ah! she is so sweet, you would drink her up in a glass of water!" exclaims the poet, using this strong Provençal figure of speech, popular in a country where the hot sun makes water cool and refreshing, the image of all that is sweet and delicious.

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A rich Mas is that in which Mireio dwells. It has a vast orchard of olive trees, with vines and almonds; and Mireio, the heiress to all this wealth, the rich farmer's only child, has set her heart on a penniless ladon Vincent, the son of Ambrose, an old, worn-out sailor, now a basket-maker, who owns a poor, low hut by the Rhone, and who goes from Mas to Mas mending and making. Vincent goes with him, and it is during one of their periodical visits to Mireio's home, that the narrative opens.

Vincent and Mireio sit together; love is brooding in the air, but it is unconfessed as yet, and if the lad seeks to charm the girl's ear, it is only with the recital of all he meets with in his wandering life. He describes popular games and festivals, pilgrimages to holy shrines, miracles which he has seen and firmly believes in, and

Mireio listens entranced. But Ambrose is old and grey; no secret art, no youthful fervour, teach him the way to a girl's heart. The labourers drinking at their evening meal, have filled his glass: the old man's heart warms within him with the generous wine; he remembers a battle long ago- a victory, in which he was one of the victors; the evening is calm and fair, and in its stillness, he sings the song of Bailli Suffren. Bailli de Suffren was a proud, stern, Provençal sailor. He beat the English under Admiral Hughes; but he failed in the courtier's art at Versailles. Napoleon said of him at St. Helena: "Had he lived in my time, I would have made a Nelson of him." Which of his victories the ballad records we are not told; but it matters not; it is a fine ballad-heroic, local and boastful, as an account of a victory should be:

66 'Bailli Suffren commands at sea:

The signal is given in the port of Toulon,
We leave Toulon, five hundred Provençals."

Away they sail for weeks across a burning ocean, meeting neither friend nor foe. At length on the Arab coast three English ships are descried; three to one are

the hated enemy. The Provençals raise a shout of savage joy: "Let them try the figs of Antibes." There is a flash across the sea, and "only the soul" is left to one of the English ships. The fighting grows


"Scarcely a step divides us from the foe. Oh, happipiness and delight! Bailli Suffren, intrepid and pale, and who stood motionless on the deck, cries 'Children, cease your fire. Let us anoint them with the oil of Aix.""

Then "begins the great massacre." What a crash of falling masts and sinking decks! What groans from the vanquished wounded, what savage cries from the conquerors!

"Many an Englishman plunges into the sea and perishes. Many a Provençal seizes an Englishman, grasps him in his claws, and sinks with him.

"But is it possible,' exclaim the breathless hearers ; 'were you not one to three, and did they not crush you?'

"The English crush us!' says the old sailor, throwing himself back angrily; then once more smiling, he resumes his song."

The fighting is over. Of the five hundred Provençals who sailed from the port of Toulon, one hundred are missing; but it is a great victory: never again shall the king of England see his three noble ships. They have sunk into the pitiless deep sea. With torn sails and a shattered hull, Bailli Suffren wends his way home. He cheers his men with promises of telling the king of Paris how bravely they fought. But what have poor sailors to do with kings, and what does the king of Paris care for his Provençals? In Suffren lies their pride, let him get all the honour.

"But remember,' they say, if thou goest to court, remember when they bow in thy noble passage, that none love thee like thy sailors.


For oh! good Suffren, if we had the power, before

"And one day, with abrupt and rapid bound, throw off their rider, gallop over twenty leagues of marsh, snuff the wind, and returned to the vaccaries, their birthplace, after ten years of slavery, breathe the free salt emanation of the sea.

going back to our villages, we would bear thee a king on the tip of our finger.'

"A man of Martigue one evening made this song, whilst he was spreading his nets. Bailli Suffren went to Paris.

"And they say the great ones of that place were jealous of his glory, and his old sailors saw him no more."

In Romeo and Juliet alone can we find a fit parallel for the sudden, passionate, and ingenuous love of Mireio and Vincent. To love and to tell her love seem one for the southern girl; and to love and indulge in all extravagant fervour of passion one for her lover. His professions are boundless.

"I love thee so that if thou wert to say, 'I want a star,' neither sea to cross, nor forest, nor mad torrent, nor headsman, nor fire, nor sword should stop me. On the top of the mountains touching the sky, would I go and take it, and next Sunday thou shouldst wear it hanging from thy neck."

This almost untranslateable mixture of the familiar and the hyperbolical, this southern fervour which the most daring of northern languages cannot tolerate, is not one of the least attractions of Mireio in the original. The warmth of the sun pervades it through and through.

Mireio is beautiful and rich; she has many suitors; for the sake of the basket-mender's son she rejects three lovers-wealthy men, whose rank, riches, and courtship fill a canto, and take up as much room as any of Homer's Greek heroes. First of all comes the shepherd Alari. A thousand sheep, asses and goats are his. In winter their pasture is by the lake of Entressen; in summer, they climb to the Alpine valleys. But when the shearing is over, when the snow-storm sweeps around the wild mountain steep, what a sight it is to see the noble flock come down the stony paths till they reach the vast plains of Crau. What a sight for Alari, who stands and looks with calm pride. With his handsome white dogs by him, with the sceptre-like wand in his hand, with his serene glance and his brow of wisdom, "he looks like handsome King David in his youth, when towards evening he led the flocks to his father's


The handsome shepherd meets Mireio near her father's house. He has often heard of her beauty, but she is more beautiful than fame had reported. He loves her at once, and, at once, from love he proceeds to wooing. He speaks of his flock; he shows her a beautiful cup which he has carved during the long summer on the mountains, with an art which Virgil's shepherds might have envied, and which Alpine shepherds have not yet lost; but Mireio laughs gently at his suit, and says him nay.

Another lover comes: Véran, the owner of a hundred white fillies. Untamed, unbroken, with maues erect, they fly like the wind in the sun-burnt plains that skirt the Mediterranean shores.


"Shame on the human race," exclaims the poet. fillies of Camargue to the spur that tears their flank as to the hand that caresses them, have never submitted. Ensnared by treason, I have seen some exiled from the salt plains.

"For this wild race has the sea for element. Escaped from the car of Neptune it is still dyed with foam, and when the sea swells and darkens, when ships burst their cables, the horses of Camargue neigh with delight."

Véran, too, has heard of Mireio's beauty. He throws his long, yellow, Arlesian vest over his shoulder; he puts on his many-coloured sash, his oil-skin hat, that shines in the sun; and, with mingled courtesy and pride, he asks Mireio of her father Ramon. But Mireio grows pale; and she is too young to marry, she says. Véran smiles and turns away; his southern mind is quick to understand rejection, and his southern pride to resent it, "A keeper of Camargue knows the gnat's sting," he says to Ramon, and he withdraws.

A sterner lover is Ourrias. His oxen are black, wild and fierce, and their master born and reared amongst them, is swarthy and savage. Ill fares his wooing when he meets Mireio at the fountain. The pretty child laughs at the wild-looking herdsman.


"Beautiful maiden, give me your love," says Ourrias. "Young man, you shall have it," replies Mireio, the water lilies bear grapes, when your iron goad blossoms, when yonder mountains melt like wax, and when one goes to Baux by sea."

The revenge of Ourrias is one of the most dramatic and finely-told incidents in the poem. Swelling with anger and wounded pride, the herdsman rides away. His path lies through the lonely, desolate plains of Crau, where space seems to melt into the sea and the sea to fade away in the sky. The sun is setting with a low, red light; the wild birds which haunt the silent moor still linger by the stagnant pools. In that calm desert, at that peaceful hour, the savage Ourrias descries Vincent coming towards him. The lad's youth, his handsome person, his happy look breathing unconsciously, perhaps, the exultation of a love returned, rouse the fury of Ourrias. Jealousy is not always blind. The herdsman taxes the handsome boy with Mireio's love, and insults her coarsely. Vincent turns on him like a young leopard suddenly awakened. They fight, and the account of this primitive duel-in which wrath, vigour and skill do the combatants instead of the knight's sword and lance—is magnificent. At length the huge herdsman falls like a tower on the plain. He is conquered Vincent lays his foot on his prostrate enemy's breast, and bids him seek his wild herds in the Camargue, and there hide his bruises, his insolence and his shame; then releasing him, turns away exulting in his victory.

According to the laws of such encounters, the fall of Ourrias is final; he is beaten, and has only to submit to his defeat. But the vast lande is silent and lonely; conscience alone stands between him and treachery, and with him, conscience is but a word to laugh to scorn. He rises, seizes his trident-shaped goad, pierces the unarmed youth's breast, then gallops away, laughing at the feast he has left to the wolves of Crau.

Vincent is not dead; and that same night Ourrias, waylaid by the spirits that have power over murderers, perishes miserably in the Rhone. The basket-maker's son, tendered by Mircio, recovers, but with life and health, his love returns mightier than ever. Like all love it is full of desire, and hope. He is poor, but he has will and strength; can he not work hard, and be such a son-in-law as Ramon himself would wish for? why should he not marry his Mireio, the sooner the better. Many a poor man's son has soared higher. Ambrose is startled; at first he resists. Then sighing, he yields to the young man's prayer. On the eve of Saint John, when Ramou is opening the harvest, when he feels more closely the fullness and abundance of a farmer's wealth, Ambrose undertakes to sound him. In covert speech, without naming Mireio, he tells Vincent's love and prayer, and asks for advice. Ramon's answer is short and stern. The youth's love must pass away. Let not the father venture on so strange an errand as to ask a rich man's daughter in marriage.

"Then feverish and white, the love-sick girl says to her father: 'Kill me, father, for I am she whom Vincent loves, and before God and our Lady, none but him shall have my soul.' A death-like silence seized the three."

Mireio's mother speaks first. If royal blood flowed in Jeanne Marie's veins, her scorn of the insult inflicted them by Mireio's choice could scarcely be greater.


"Go,' she says, 'go wander with your beggar. Go from door to door. Be off, you gipsy! go, put three stones together, and cook your mess under the arch of a bridge.`


The father is long silent, but his eyes burn with a cold light; at length he breaks forth in coarse insulting speech. From his daughter he turns to Ambrose, and reviles him with language which the old man will not endure.

"If our fortune is low, our hearts are high,' he answers; 'learn that from me to day. I have never heard as yet that poverty was either vice or stain, forty years I have servedforty years in the army to the hoarse sound of cannon.'

"Lost in the plains of the ocean-of the ocean calm or stormy, I have seen the empire of Melinda. I have seen India with Suffren, and known days more bitter than the sea.'

"A soldier in the great wars, I have wandered over the world with that high chief who ascended from the south, and carried his destructive hand from Spain to the Russian steppes, and the world shook like a wild pear-tree at the sound of his drums.'

"In the horror of boardings, in the anguish of wrecks, the rich never took my part. I, child of the poor, I who in my own country had not a bit of earth to till, I forty years wore my flesh for her.'


And we slept on ice and eat the bread of dogs, and envious of death, we ran to the fight, to defend the name of France; but who remembers that now?"

But the rich farmer too has fought. His youth was not spent in the sweetness of home; he too paid his debt to France. Has he not heard the crash of Arcola's

bridge, and seen the sands of Egypt drink living blood? And when the wars were over, he came back to till the soil he had bravely defended, and has he not worn youth, life, "the very marrow of his bones," in making that soil fertile. "And shall he have toiled to enrich a beggar's son !"

"Go," he says, with the Provençal oath-"Tron de Dieune-go! keep your dog. I keep my swan." Ambrose rises, takes his cloak, his stick, and calmly saying, Farewell, may ye never repent it," he departs.


Thus are doomed the loves of Mireio. The feud which divided Capulet and Montague was not more pitiless to Juliet, than Ramon's landed hard-acquired wealth is to his daughter.

In the bitterness of her sorrow Mireio remembers words which she once heard from Vincent: "If ever trouble weighs on you, run, run to the Saints, and you will get relief."

The Saintes Marie-de-la-mer, is a shrine popular in all Provence. In the island of Camargue, landed, according to tradition, the three Marys, driven from Jerusalem with several of the disciples. The boat in which they were sent adrift to perish, bore them safely across the sea to the shores of Provence. Mary Magdalen retired to the desert of la Sainte Banme; the two other Marys and their servant Sarah, converted the pagan natives, then went back to Camargue to die. With time a church was built over their grave; and every year, on the twenty-fifth of May, devout pilgrims visit this ancient shrine. Full of faith in the power of the Marys, Mireio rises in the night and steals out of her father's house. She wears that most graceful of French costumes, the holiday attire of an Arlesian girl; the black boddice, the embroidered skirt, the delicate lace cap set off her beauty; but because the night is cool, she forgets her broad Provençal hat, without which it is death to meet the hot Provençal sun of June. The night is starry and clear, but dawn steals across the sky; the horizon reddens, the broad sun rises, and soon pours its fervid fires on Mireio's devoted head. On she goes, borne on the wings of love and faith, through the wild desert, burning plains. She crosses the Rhone in a fisherman's boat, and without pause or rest pursues her journey. The sky is pitilessly blue; the earth is hot beneath her feet; stunted trees that give no shade, and afar the shining sea alone meet her sight; yet on she goes, till an arrow from the sun gives her the death stroke. She sinks with a dull pain in her head, but making one last effort, she rises again and reaches the yellow church of the Marys, that seems to rise like a vast ship from the bosom of the sea. She kneels on the cold pavement of the holy place," and thus her prayer reached Heaven in sighs:"

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