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Title: Feline Philosophy
Author: Hess, Walter Léon
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Feline Philosophy" ***

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  FELINE PHILOSOPHY


  BY THOMAS CAT


  RENDERED INTO ENGLISH
  BY WALTER LÉON HESS


  BOSTON
  RICHARD G. BADGER
  THE GORHAM PRESS



  COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY WALTER LÉON HESS

  All Rights Reserved


  Made in the United States of America

  The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.



  _I have nine lives
  And a number of wives--
    But at last I must put a ban
  On feline ways
  And midnight lays
    For now I live with man!_

[Illustration]



FELINE PHILOSOPHY

BY THOMAS CAT

[Illustration]



FELINE PHILOSOPHY

BY THOMAS CAT



FIRST CATERWAUL


  The family have gone to the country,
  Horton, his wife and four children.
  They took the butler and maids, the dogs,
  The canaries and parrot. Shutters
  They put on the house and the keys
  Are turned in the locks. The silver
  Was put in the vault and everything
  Valuable carefully stowed....
                                Little Jack
  Looked well for me. But when he found me
  Was told to put me outside; a cat has no
  Place in a house that is closed for
  The summer.
              When they were sorely troubled
  With rats and mice they coaxed me to
  Come to live in the cellar. They fed
  Me richly on cream and the choicest
  Bits from their lavish table. They gave
  Me a rug to sleep, and taught the children
  To pet me. All took turns to feed me and
  They saved the bones of each fish.
                                    The
  Mice and rats disappeared; the rug
  Is filthy, in tatters. Old Horton curses
  And kicks me and kicks me down stairs when he
  Meets me; warns the baby to heed my
  Claws and the older children that
  Cats breed all sorts of diseases. Edith
  Has young men to call and "cannot abide
  The cat that is covered with ashes."
  Only Jack remembers--which reminds me
  How well I was treated. I was young when
  They found me and now have grown wise in
  Their councils.
                I have no food and no
  Lodging.

[Illustration]



SECOND CATERWAUL


  It's more than a week since I've eaten
  And my bed is made in the gutter. Well-fed
  And beggars go by and their boots are
  All alike ready as soon as they spy me.
  Jack Horton went by with his father and
  Stooped to whisper his secret. Old Horton
  Jerked his arm and urged that he'd miss
  The train. So even railroad time
  Seems relentless as the procession
  Passes over and about me. Between buying
  A new suit for his party
  And his affection
  Even young Jack had no choice.
  Now I have to hunt
  And I've eaten a sparrow for breakfast.
  I ate with infinite relish
  Though I never ate one before;
  I was starved and the murder and crime
  Were lost in my terrible necessity.
  My depravity is beginning to wear....
  I shall wander down to the river....
  I have heard Jack's father say:
  When a man falls so low as that
  He had better drown himself than--
  I've forgotten the rest; I cannot think
  In my present state of mind.



THIRD CATERWAUL


  Arrived at the wharf there was not
  Another soul in sight ... except at the very end
  Where sat a most woebegone looking Tramp
  Smoking what was once a cigar
  Of price. Half smoked it had been thrust
  In the gutter at the theater-entrance
  By a careless and prosperous merchant.
  The Tramp was very near to the edge looking out
  Over the water as blankly as a blind man.
  A man! Look at him ... and I a mere cat!
  No doubt Old Horton was right.... One leap
  Into the darkness and all gloomy thoughts,
  All trouble, like the half-finished cigar
  Would give place to beautiful dreams and
  Never-ending.... At least it cannot be much
  Worse.... No! Far better than the foul gutter
  And the murderous cravings for the unattainable.
  I shall burst my bonds and jump in.

[Illustration]



FOURTH CATERWAUL


  It gave a terrible fright when I struck
  The water. Even in filth and mud I found it more
  Pleasure to swim than to drown. How comfortable
  The gutter now seemed but my strength was
  Utterly useless.... My thoughts had been
  Less overwhelming than the murky slime that
  Would kill me ... and to sink, to be swallowed
  By fishes that had been sweet food for my palate.
  A boat came out of the darkness and a brown
  Arm folded me up from the last gasp in the river.
  It was going out to a yacht and the mate was the
  Man who rescued: "What luck with our rats and mice
  To find this bedraggled feline.... Maggie can give
  It some milk and the Master won't curse for the
  Vermin...."
                Perhaps I was born as an antidote!
  Perhaps I have no choice what to do!
  But whatever may be I shall at least do
  What is expected, the best that I can--
  How else can I expect anything?



FIFTH CATERWAUL


  Did you ever see a palace in a desert?
  Ralph Dimon was a good catch and Irene's
  Father was very rich. Low necked dress,
  Dress clothes, lace, jewelry, curtains of
  Fine brocade, mahogany panellings and
  Nickel-mountings dimmed the lights of Brough's
  Yacht and were more plentiful than the drops
  Of water that had nearly drowned me.
  As I was lifted over the side I saw the
  Two lovers lounging in the bow where there
  Were no lights; while inside the electric
  Lamps burned neglected. The wind blew a gale
  And I shivered; but comfortable surroundings
  And even diamonds would warm anybody but a
  Half drowned cat....
                          I wonder if pink ribbons
  And a silver-mounted collar would have made
  Me warmer or less hungry ... and I was most
  Interested because Irene's father never paid
  His bills without a lawsuit.... Perhaps I might
  With ribbon and collar have had food for the asking.
  But an honest cat must be kicked around
  The kitchen by Maggie. Maggie was used to it:
  "Haven't you better sense than to bring such
  Rubbish aboard, Jim? Old Brough will miss the
  Milk and there'll be the devil to pay."--And
  To think how I could rid this palace of vermin....
  But that would cost Father Brough money and
  It wouldn't show....
  Jim put me ashore ... but I was grateful!

[Illustration]



SIXTH CATERWAUL


  What a terrible contrast: from an interrupted
  Yachting trip to the garbage can! The smell
  Of the sea is sweeter but I wasn't dressed
  For it.... The lure of a square meal is sweeter
  Than the glitter of paste.
                            Think of finding a
  Half beefsteak on top of the can! There was no
  Gravy but it was cooked to perfection. I ate it
  With relish, but should have enjoyed it better
  If only some one would let me work for it--
  Especially such a meal.... And yet they say beggars
  Cannot be choosers.... I found a lot more in the can
  To eat, but the steak satisfied me.
  I was very tired; so I went to sleep beside the
  Can....
      When the collector came he took counsel of
  My presence and hunted through to see what he could
  Find of value. He looked up and down the street
  And then slipped a half-roasted-chicken into his
  Blouse; but not before casting me a look of
  Triumph.... But I never can eat two meals at a
  Sitting and chicken doesn't agree with me. Then,
  Too, even honey is nourishing, but it may give
  One indigestion.... I hope he enjoyed the chicken
  As much as I did my banquet....
                                Why, thought I, not
  Offer to stay in this house where plenty runs
  To overflowing....
                        It proved to be Brough's!

[Illustration]



SEVENTH CATERWAUL


  I prefer the street and the gutter
  To the hospitality Brough's might have offered.
  How lucky to be a cat
  Free to accept or--refuse
  What is offered!

[Illustration]



EIGHTH CATERWAUL


                      I found a door that was open.
  The grass in the entry was cut close;
  The hangings and drawing-room furniture
  Immaculate in their smug neatness. Even the
  Windows were clean and the books on the
  Shelves were well dusted. I wandered into
  The kitchen where oilcloth was spotless
  And tidy. Even the walls were fresh-papered....
  No doubt to keep the kalsomine-water
  From evaporating....
                            Table-manners in such
  A house, I fear, are more real than the eating.
  I turned about and went out lest the hairs
  In my coat might scatter.

[Illustration]



NINTH CATERWAUL


  I have been housed with Jerolamon Jones
  And his wife, whom they call "tame cat,"
  For what seems a fairly long time. Jerry
  They call him for short and short is the Bible
  He reads. Lovers they are to the world and
  To each other still more--for that is the
  Judgment that counts.... Jerry has nights
  "At the club" and loves his dear wife's
  Friends. She can always reach him by 'phone
  But she wouldn't do it for worlds as she
  Trusts him beyond cavil or guile....
  And the tame cat sits on the laps of a
  Dozen or more of his friends--but only
  When Jerry is home.
                        I followed Jerry one night
  But his club was not where he went....
  We came home exactly at twelve--and Marion
  (That was his wife) was fast asleep in the sheets.
  Fulton had kissed her that night--and of course
  She told Jerry next day.... He trusted his wife
  As she him....
                  They were playing the game
  When I left--I left because only I
  Knew how to end the farce!



TENTH CATERWAUL


  I have wandered over the city aimless and homeless,
  Hungered in mind and in body.
  Days are not irksome in sunshine
  And rain promises more when it ceases.
  But the nights are so intimate
  And the rays of one's mind
  Are perlucid.
  Like a criminal tracing his steps
  Back to the scene of iniquity,
  I found myself in Horton's neighborhood....
  But the house was still closed for the summer.

[Illustration]



ELEVENTH CATERWAUL


  Mrs. Horton's maid, Alice, came home
  With the keys. She left the window open
  When she went to the corner for food.
  I took unfair advantage--thus experience has taught me--
  Climbed in at the first opportunity.
  I hid in her bedroom--the only door that was open.
  After all I had suffered
  Perhaps Jack would come back
  And then my troubles be over.
  For the first time in months
  I slept without fear and in comfort....
  It must have been after midnight
  When Old Horton came in. It was pitch dark
  So he couldn't see me. It gave me uncanny pleasure
  To follow him. He stole up to Alice's room
  As if a hundred were watching. The door remained
  Gaping to the empty house and--me.
  Presently Alice screamed and the harrowing sound
  Frightens me even now.
  Horton went back to his room
  And the house resumed its stillness.
  I sat on the floor by his bed
  Lulled by his heavy breathing....
  Out of the darkness there gleamed
  A flash from the crack of a pistol.
  Alice was fully dressed and quietly turned on her heel;
  Left the house by the basement; walked to the corner
  And river; threw something deep in its water; then back
  To the house where she'd killed him--
  Leaving the front door open.... I followed her up to her room
  Where she undressed and went back to bed....
  Dead in his they found Horton,
  And on his tomb they inscribed:

  "A LOVING FATHER AND DEVOTED HUSBAND."

[Illustration]



TWELFTH CATERWAUL


  I've been sitting in the gutter and wondering--
  Strange dreams come to me in strange places--
  The glare of approaching motor
  Bewildered my thoughts still more.
  I saw stranger things in the shadows
  Than the glow of the lights revealed.
  And the deepest shadows
  Close behind the gleaming arcs of the motor
  Showed heads that were snuggled close.
  Edith Horton was one
  And Brough--who is married--the other.
  No matter how dark the night its shame is refulgent
  To Heaven.
  The chain of my reverie was broken
  As the lash will draw blood from the purest....
  And yet I am only a cat that was nearly
  Run over!

[Illustration]



THIRTEENTH CATERWAUL


  Jack Horton has taken me back--
  His father's boots are now mouldy.
  Edith does charity work and teaches in
  Sunday-school. Brough is the superintendent....
  The mortgage on Mallory's house
  Was foreclosed on Saturday morning.
  Mallory, wife and six children
  Were sitting out on the street,
  Their shabby trappings about them....
  A syndicate bought the house
  From Brough--his profit was ten thousand dollars.
  Brough is rolling in wealth.
  But Mallory now and Brough
  Will seem to me much more alike:
  Neither will pay his bills.
  ... But Jack is kind to me
  And Brough's not the milk
  That I drink!

[Illustration]



FOURTEENTH CATERWAUL


  When Mallory worked in the shops
  He drank up the wages he earned.
  Now that he's out of a job
  He's docile and kind to his wife
  And dawdles the baby all day.
  Old Horton used to say that Mallory
  Was a good mechanic and a bad father.
  Thus do critics fall out--Now that Old Horton
  Is dead
  He could not reverse his opinion
  Nor the marble slab on his grave.
  Joe Mallory was always Jack's chum; so Jack got after
  His friends.... Now he's delighted and proud
  For he found Mallory a job
  Which Mallory thoroughly liked and took
  For the price of giving up drink.

[Illustration]



FIFTEENTH CATERWAUL


  Edith was reading the paper
  Breakfasting on the couch
  At the foot of which I sat.
  Her face was as pale as a ghost.... She read
  Something twice out loud:
  "James Brough in the Bankruptcy Court.
  Squandered his fortune on women;
  Many society girls in his net."
  She fainted just as her mother came in; so I
  Quietly left the room....
                      And yet there is now a law
  That the lamps of motors be dimmed!

[Illustration]



SIXTEENTH CATERWAUL


  Jack and his older brother went to the wharf
  As Ralph Dimon is going abroad.
  He's going to stay for some time....
  Irene's been released
  From a very long engagement.
  Not only for mourning it seems
  That weddings are postponed.
  Irene looks dejected and weary--
  She came to see Edith this morning.
  The two are off for the mountains together....
  They say Ralph was richer than Brough.

[Illustration]



SEVENTEENTH CATERWAUL


  They are sending Jack to boarding-school--
  He debated long should he take me?
  If only I were a dog!--but grown boys
  Don't make pets of cats....
  He doesn't know why he's going away--
  But I do: Alice, the maid, is in trouble
  And Mrs. Horton is shocked--and doesn't
  Want Jack to know.

[Illustration]



EIGHTEENTH CATERWAUL


  Ever since Jack went away
  Mrs. Horton has looked after me.
  The day he left
  She came to the window
  And threw out Old Horton's boots.
  At first I thought they were thrown
  At me--but it seems that she threw them
  Wide of the window!
  When I voiced my surprise
  She hurried to me and now
  I sleep on her divan!

[Illustration]



NINETEENTH CATERWAUL


  Clarence Horton, Jerolamon Jones and a few
  Of the other young bloods had a party last night--
  Hunt breakfast they called it, I think.
  They started by talking of dogs--hounds and
  Horse-flesh and mounts. I gathered that sort of sport
  Leaves all the toil to the dogs
  And the glory and brush to the hunter.
  For this kind of thing
  They were well fit--
  And none of them went home too sober!

[Illustration]



TWENTIETH CATERWAUL


  Mrs. Horton sent Alice away--she left last night
  After dark.
  It was better the neighbors
  Shouldn't see!
  There was no reason therefore
  To send poor Jack away!--
  Perhaps it was just as well?
  Mrs. Horton wouldn't have Alice around
  Lest it embarrass Edith and--her....
  I followed Alice some way and she seemed
  Quite cheerful enough.
  Waiting is much the same
  No matter what one expects.

[Illustration]



TWENTY-FIRST CATERWAUL


  Brough is through with the Courts
  And continues to ride in his car.
  He called for Edith last night
  When Mrs. Horton was out--she had gone
  To the hospital where Alice was
  Supposed to have gone....
                          Brough's chauffeur
  Isn't paid but it's the only way to get what
  One wants--to keep right on
  Especially when fishing for eels!
  Brough is a financier--the rest of us
  Only fish!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-SECOND CATERWAUL


  In my morning stroll I found
  The Jerolamon Jones' door stood open;
  I looked about and went in
  But received a scanty welcome--
  Indeed I was promptly chased out
  By the maid.
  This afternoon Mrs. Jones called
  To beg Mrs. Horton
  To loan her the valuable cat
  As the maid had discovered
  A mouse.
  Thus do values increase
  And appreciation follow apace!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-THIRD CATERWAUL


  The maid that had chased me out
  Fondled me as she carried me over
  Till my fur bristled....
                            The mice have
  Disappeared--I finished as luncheon was served,
  And sat by the serving-table.
  But the Joneses all ate so much
  That I wasn't even noticed--and when I was,
  They sent me back to the Horton's
  At once....
              Mrs. Horton fed me herself!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-FOURTH CATERWAUL


  I saw the maid, Alice, last night;
  She was wandering near the bright lights
  And the carnivorous shadows--Shadows
  That burned to my soul as I saw her
  Speak to a man. They went down the street
  Together, the veil of darkness hid them,
  And when I got home Mrs. Horton
  Was telling a friend that "Alice
  Was lost beyond any redemption; at any rate
  She herself could no longer help!"--
  What problems beset our family!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-FIFTH CATERWAUL


  Jack was home for Christmas
  But I saw him hardly at all--
  To the front door he now has a key
  And the hours he keeps are quite varied.
  One morning he slept very late
  And the name that he spoke in his dreams
  Was "Alice."
  Mrs. Horton was proud of her son and the party
  She gave him was sumptuous.

[Illustration]



TWENTY-SIXTH CATERWAUL


  We have a new cook at the Horton's
  Who saves the bean water for soup....
  I've enjoyed such broth at the Mallory's,
  But at the Horton's!!!--
  And their bills are always as large
  As before Bridget was installed.
  But Edith and Mrs. Horton are pleased
  And the baby and I can't complain!!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-SEVENTH CATERWAUL


  There's a new baby at the Mallory's
  And the rest of the children are pleased;
  Mallory and his wife are as happy as larks....
  Edith Horton has a toy Angora
  And Mrs. Horton has forgotten me--
  Indeed she has put me out....
  Again I must wander the streets!

[Illustration]



TWENTY-EIGHTH CATERWAUL


  I followed Alice last night
  Down to her alley and room--
  She stooped as she entered her door
  And petted me much as she used to....
  Then she cuddled her baby and seemed
  Far fonder of it than Mrs. Horton of hers
  And nearly as much
  As Edith of her angora....

[Illustration]



TWENTY-NINTH CATERWAUL


  I sat on the curb at the corner
  Just outside the saloon
  Where politics rule and
  Presidents are made and unmade.
  Two men were discussing the War....
  And when they were through, the conclusion
  Was discussion untempered by argument....
  Unconvinced I went on my way.

[Illustration]



THIRTIETH CATERWAUL


  All afternoon I sat in the shade
  Of a hideous skyscraper
  On the Avenue.
  Women of all sorts went by
  And their footgear and stockings
  Were varied.
  Skirts that our grandmothers used
  To clothe five- and ten-year-old girlies
  Revealed twelve inches of hose--
  Nor the three-shade boots that shod them
  Would help a Chinaman guess
  The age of the wearers who proudly
  Boasted this awful foundation....
  And yet are most of the women
  Sweet-souled and modest....
  I polished my claws once again!

[Illustration]



THIRTY-FIRST CATERWAUL


  I looked in at the restaurant window
  Through which gleamed a medley of color--
  Diamonds, pearl pendants and rubies,
  And ruby and gold was the wine
  Blazing first in glasses rich-stemmed,
  Then blazoned bright in the glances
  Of women;
  Some with their husbands and fathers,
  Others leering and brazen--
  But my milk tasted sweeter
  Next morning, for to the poor
  All things are pure!

[Illustration]



THIRTY-SECOND CATERWAUL


  I hadn't eaten for hours
  And all the house doors were shut--
  The heat of the sun was oppressive
  So I languished in the shade,
  Though my appetite was appalling....
  Beside there were plenty of sparrows
  Ready to eat when I chose to....
  But when the sun was gone,
  So were the sparrows!

[Illustration]



THIRTY-THIRD CATERWAUL


  The Mallorys have taken me in....
  Mallory says: one more to feed....
  But the children like it to play
  And it looks like Horton's old cat
  So it's certain to be a good one....
  Even if discarded.

[Illustration]



THIRTY-FOURTH CATERWAUL


  Mrs. Mallory read from the paper
  Where wise ones answer fool's queries
  And this was one of the questions:
  Is it possible a woman
  Who has bitten her nails all her life
  Since first she had teeth
  Could so cause her baby
  The affliction of two thumbs on one hand?...
  Did they ever think that of cats?

[Illustration]



THIRTY-FIFTH CATERWAUL


  If we really had nine lives,
  None akin to the others
  And all the hopes of each life
  Were answered in the next,
  Perhaps a cat's existence would
  Still be unsatisfactory?

[Illustration]



THIRTY-SIXTH CATERWAUL


  Joe Mallory told Jack about Alice--
  At least of her fate.
  Jack found her address
  And wanted to help....
  And yet there are some
  Who believe heredity infallible!

[Illustration]



THIRTY-SEVENTH CATERWAUL


  While Jack tried to smother
  Alice's wild burning fires
  Joe never obtruded--
  But when Jack was not watching
  Joe brought more wood
  To the kindling....
  Still they were friends.

[Illustration]



THIRTY-EIGHTH CATERWAUL


  You should have read Brough's
  Obituary.... He died
  When he'd rescued a fortune
  By making hardware and debts:
  ... MOST RESPECTED MERCHANT ...
  PHILANTHROPIST.... Loss to
  The Community ... and over a
  Dozen "Resolved's."
  The Merchants' Club framed his picture.
  And to think
  Generations of men proudly
  Will claim his descent!

[Illustration]



THIRTY-NINTH CATERWAUL


  Edith Horton is married--
  (Joe Mallory went to the wedding)--
  Many a thorn-edge is dulled
  By brushing it by in a hurry....
  And roses often change hue
  Between the bright sun and the limelight.

[Illustration]



FORTIETH CATERWAUL


  I watched a man cranking his motor.
  It stalled....
  He tinkered with levers
  Till he gave it up in despair
  And stood disconsolate staring.
  When he cranked it again
  It started so quickly
  That it raised the hair of my coat.

[Illustration]



FORTY-FIRST CATERWAUL


  Jones' collie and Mallory's hound
  Were discussing a new-found bone
  With vicious snarling and snapping
  And other unseemly behaviour....
  On the fence above them I sat
  Distressed....
  Neither dared touch the prize....
  Nor would either allow the other.
  Then Jerry and Joe both whistled....
  The bone lies forgotten and wasted.

[Illustration]



FORTY-SECOND CATERWAUL


  It grew very warm in the house,
  The Mallorys mopping and sweating--
  Perspiration is fuel for temper--
  Even I couldn't stand the heat
  Nor tell them no windows were open....
  But cats are always too obvious;
  So I went out for a walk.

[Illustration]



FORTY-THIRD CATERWAUL


  Alice is dead of consumption....
  All Jack's efforts were useless;
  Disconsolate he tried to comfort
  The last of her wasted moments....
  "God will forgive you," he whispered....
  Yet who is the judge of the Damned?--
  And Joe is much disappointed
  Though he feels he may have hurried
  Alice's end.... I wonder
  What I repent?--or is it only
  Regret?

[Illustration]



FORTY-FOURTH CATERWAUL


  All my life I have studied
  The passerby-faces
  And known them....
  Sometimes they noticed me;
  Others more often seemed
  Unconscious I saw them.
  I wondered what they were thinking....
  Or had they no thoughts
  But like wax that responds
  To momentary impressions?
  I'm sure I read all the faces....
  Did I know them--
  Except when they kicked me
  Or petted?

[Illustration]



FORTY-FIFTH CATERWAUL


  At last I have to confess
  That all my judgment is blinded!
  Jack and Joe are now partners,
  Croesus and Job united
  In one homogeneous effort....
  And yet my kind make nights hideous
  By howling continuous calamity!

[Illustration]



FORTY-SIXTH CATERWAUL


  Now that the Mallorys have money
  They haven't changed the brand
  Of my milk nor their butcher.
  They wear more clothes
  And better; but they still
  Continue to pet me.

[Illustration]



FORTY-SEVENTH CATERWAUL


  Joe sent Pat Mallory through college;
  Up there Pat says that his father
  Is Superintendent of power--
  Old Mallory's just a plain foreman--
  But Pat still with reason
  Differs
  From the verdict given by Horton,
  For Pat still worships his father,
  And still calls me
  Poor old Cat....

[Illustration]



FORTY-EIGHTH CATERWAUL


  I heard Pat talking of college--
  Some of Pat's friends have been visiting--
  I wondered what they were learning!
  Pat is surely improving.
  Still Joe would always have prospered
  In or out of a college--
  And yet I shall always be
  Just a cat.

[Illustration]



FORTY-NINTH CATERWAUL


  I've watched in the rain and snow
  Sunshine and cloudy weather
  For any change in my spirit;
  But whether I've eaten a fish
  Or had just a drink of milk,--
  Only that I found made
  A difference.

[Illustration]



FIFTIETH CATERWAUL


  Go on with your work--
  Patient Stranger!
  I've told you enough of my
  Wanderings.
  The Mallorys are troubled with mice
  And never close house for the summer!

[Illustration]





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