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´╗┐Title: In Shadow of the Glen
Author: Synge, J. M. (John Millington), 1871-1909
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 "In Shadow of the Glen" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



By J. M. Synge

First performed at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, October 8th, 1903.


     DAN BURKE (farmer and herd)... George Roberts
     NORA BURKE (his wife)......... Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh
     MICHEAL DARA (a young herd)... P. J. Kelly
     A TRAMP....................... W. G. Fay



SCENE.--{The last cottage at the head of a long glen in County Wicklow.

Cottage kitchen; turf fire on the right; a bed near it against the wall
with a body lying on it covered with a sheet. A door is at the other
end of the room, with a low table near it, and stools, or wooden chairs.
There are a couple of glasses on the table, and a bottle of whisky, as
if for a wake, with two cups, a teapot, and a home-made cake. There is
another small door near the bed. Nora Burke is moving about the room,
settling a few things, and lighting candles on the table, looking now
and then at the bed with an uneasy look. Some one knocks softly at the
door. She takes up a stocking with money from the table and puts it in
her pocket. Then she opens the door.}

TRAMP {Outside.} Good evening to you, lady of the house.


Good evening, kindly stranger, it's a wild night, God help you, to be
out in the rain falling.

TRAMP It is, surely, and I walking to Brittas from the Aughrim fair.

NORA Is it walking on your feet, stranger?

TRAMP On my two feet, lady of the house, and when I saw the light below
I thought maybe if you'd a sup of new milk and a quiet decent corner
where a man could sleep {he looks in past her and sees the dead man.}
The Lord have mercy on us all!

NORA It doesn't matter anyway, stranger, come in out of the rain.

TRAMP {Coming in slowly and going towards the bed.} Is it departed he

NORA It is, stranger. He's after dying on me, God forgive him, and there
I am now with a hundred sheep beyond on the hills, and no turf drawn for
the winter.

TRAMP {Looking closely at the dead man.} It's a queer look is on him for
a man that's dead.

NORA {Half-humorously.} He was always queer, stranger, and I suppose
them that's queer and they living men will be queer bodies after.

TRAMP Isn't it a great wonder you're letting him lie there, and he is
not tidied, or laid out itself?

NORA {Coming to the bed.} I was afeard, stranger, for he put a black
curse on me this morning if I'ld touch his body the time he'ld die
sudden, or let any one touch it except his sister only, and it's ten
miles away she lives in the big glen over the hill.

TRAMP {Looking at her and nodding slowly.} It's a queer story he
wouldn't let his own wife touch him, and he dying quiet in his bed.

NORA He was an old man, and an odd man, stranger, and it's always up on
the hills he was thinking thoughts in the dark mist. {She pulls back a
bit of the sheet.} Lay your hand on him now, and tell me if it's cold he
is surely.

TRAMP Is it getting the curse on me you'ld be, woman of the house? I
wouldn't lay my hand on him for the Lough Nahanagan and it filled with

NORA {Looking uneasily at the body.} Maybe cold would be no sign of
death with the like of him, for he was always cold, every day since I
knew him,--and every night, stranger,--{she covers up his face and comes
away from the bed}; but I'm thinking it's dead he is surely, for he's
complaining a while back of a pain in his heart, and this morning, the
time he was going off to Brittas for three days or four, he was taken
with a sharp turn. Then he went into his bed and he was saying it was
destroyed he was, the time the shadow was going up through the glen, and
when the sun set on the bog beyond he made a great lep, and let a great
cry out of him, and stiffened himself out the like of a dead sheep.

TRAMP {Crosses himself.} God rest his soul.

NORA {Pouring him out a glass of whisky.} Maybe that would do you better
than the milk of the sweetest cow in County Wicklow.

TRAMP The Almighty God reward you, and may it be to your good health.
{He drinks.}

NORA {Giving him a pipe and tobacco.} I've no pipes saving his own,
stranger, but they're sweet pipes to smoke.

TRAMP Thank you kindly, lady of the house.

NORA Sit down now, stranger, and be taking your rest.

TRAMP {Filling a pipe and looking about the room.} I've walked a great
way through the world, lady of the house, and seen great wonders, but I
never seen a wake till this day with fine spirits, and good tobacco, and
the best of pipes, and no one to taste them but a woman only.

NORA Didn't you hear me say it was only after dying on me he was when
the sun went down, and how would I go out into the glen and tell the
neighbours, and I a lone woman with no house near me?

TRAMP {Drinking.} There's no offence, lady of the house?

NORA No offence in life, stranger. How would the like of you, passing
in the dark night, know the lonesome way I was with no house near me at

TRAMP {Sitting down.} I knew rightly. {He lights his pipe so that there
is a sharp light beneath his haggard face.} And I was thinking, and I
coming in through the door, that it's many a lone woman would be afeard
of the like of me in the dark night, in a place wouldn't be so lonesome
as this place, where there aren't two living souls would see the little
light you have shining from the glass.

NORA {Slowly.} I'm thinking many would be afeard, but I never knew what
way I'd be afeard of beggar or bishop or any man of you at all. {She
looks towards the window and lowers her voice.} It's other things than
the like of you, stranger, would make a person afeard.

TRAMP {Looking round with a half-shudder.} It is surely, God help us

NORA {Looking at him for a moment with curiosity.} You're saying that,
stranger, as if you were easy afeard.

TRAMP {Speaking mournfully.} Is it myself, lady of the house, that does
be walking round in the long nights, and crossing the hills when the fog
is on them, the time a little stick would seem as big as your arm, and
a rabbit as big as a bay horse, and a stack of turf as big as a towering
church in the city of Dublin? If myself was easily afeard, I'm telling
you, it's long ago I'ld have been locked into the Richmond Asylum, or
maybe have run up into the back hills with nothing on me but an old
shirt, and been eaten with crows the like of Patch Darcy--the Lord have
mercy on him--in the year that's gone.

NORA {With interest.} You knew Darcy?

TRAMP Wasn't I the last one heard his living voice in the whole world?

NORA There were great stories of what was heard at that time, but would
any one believe the things they do be saying in the glen?

TRAMP It was no lie, lady of the house.... I was passing below on a dark
night the like of this night, and the sheep were lying under the ditch
and every one of them coughing, and choking, like an old man, with the
great rain and the fog. Then I heard a thing talking--queer talk, you
wouldn't believe at all, and you out of your dreams,--and "Merciful
God," says I, "if I begin hearing the like of that voice out of the
thick mist, I'm destroyed surely." Then I run, and I run, and I run,
till I was below in Rathvanna. I got drunk that night, I got drunk
in the morning, and drunk the day after,--I was coming from the races
beyond--and the third day they found Darcy.... Then I knew it was
himself I was after hearing, and I wasn't afeard any more.

NORA {Speaking sorrowfully and slowly.} God spare Darcy, he'ld always
look in here and he passing up or passing down, and it's very lonesome
I was after him a long while {she looks over at the bed and lowers her
voice, speaking very clearly,} and then I got happy again--if it's ever
happy we are, stranger,--for I got used to being lonesome. {A short
pause; then she stands up.}

NORA Was there any one on the last bit of the road, stranger, and you
coming from Aughrim?

TRAMP There was a young man with a drift of mountain ewes, and he
running after them this way and that.

NORA {With a half-smile.} Far down, stranger?

TRAMP A piece only.

{She fills the kettle and puts it on the fire.}

NORA Maybe, if you're not easy afeard, you'ld stay here a short while
alone with himself.

TRAMP I would surely. A man that's dead can do no hurt.

NORA {Speaking with a sort of constraint.} I'm going a little back to
the west, stranger, for himself would go there one night and another
and whistle at that place, and then the young man you're after
seeing--a kind of a farmer has come up from the sea to live in a cottage
beyond--would walk round to see if there was a thing we'ld have to be
done, and I'm wanting him this night, the way he can go down into the
glen when the sun goes up and tell the people that himself is dead.

TRAMP {Looking at the body in the sheet.} It's myself will go for him,
lady of the house, and let you not be destroying yourself with the great

NORA You wouldn't find your way, stranger, for there's a small path
only, and it running up between two sluigs where an ass and cart would
be drowned. {She puts a shawl over her head.} Let you be making yourself
easy, and saying a prayer for his soul, and it's not long I'll be coming

TRAMP {Moving uneasily.} Maybe if you'd a piece of a grey thread and a
sharp needle--there's great safety in a needle, lady of the house--I'ld
be putting a little stitch here and there in my old coat, the time I'll
be praying for his soul, and it going up naked to the saints of God.

NORA {Takes a needle and thread from the front of her dress and gives
it to him.} There's the needle, stranger, and I'm thinking you won't be
lonesome, and you used to the back hills, for isn't a dead man itself
more company than to be sitting alone, and hearing the winds crying, and
you not knowing on what thing your mind would stay?

TRAMP {Slowly.} It's true, surely, and the Lord have mercy on us all!

{Nora goes out. The Tramp begins stitching one of the tags in his coat,
saying the "De Profundis" under his breath. In an instant the sheet is
drawn slowly down, and Dan Burke looks out. The Tramp moves uneasily,
then looks up, and springs to his feet with a movement of terror.}

DAN {With a hoarse voice.} Don't be afeard, stranger; a man that's dead
can do no hurt.

TRAMP {Trembling.} I meant no harm, your honour; and won't you leave me
easy to be saying a little prayer for your soul?

{A long whistle is heard outside.}

DAN {Sitting up in his bed and speaking fiercely.} Ah, the devil mend
her.... Do you hear that, stranger? Did ever you hear another woman
could whistle the like of that with two fingers in her mouth? {He looks
at the table hurriedly.} I'm destroyed with the drouth, and let you
bring me a drop quickly before herself will come back.

TRAMP {Doubtfully.} Is it not dead you are?

DAN How would I be dead, and I as dry as a baked bone, stranger?

TRAMP {Pouring out the whisky.} What will herself say if she smells the
stuff on you, for I'm thinking it's not for nothing you're letting on to
be dead?

DAN It is not, stranger, but she won't be coming near me at all, and
it's not long now I'll be letting on, for I've a cramp in my back, and
my hip's asleep on me, and there's been the devil's own fly itching my
nose. It's near dead I was wanting to sneeze, and you blathering about
the rain, and Darcy {bitterly}--the devil choke him--and the towering
church. {Crying out impatiently.} Give me that whisky. Would you have
herself come back before I taste a drop at all?

{Tramp gives him the glass.}

DAN {After drinking.} Go over now to that cupboard, and bring me a black
stick you'll see in the west corner by the wall.

TRAMP {Taking a stick from the cupboard} Is it that?

DAN It is, stranger; it's a long time I'm keeping that stick for I've a
bad wife in the house.

TRAMP {With a queer look.} Is it herself, master of the house, and she a
grand woman to talk?

DAN It's herself, surely, it's a bad wife she is--a bad wife for an old
man, and I'm getting old, God help me, though I've an arm to me still.
{He takes the stick in his hand.} Let you wait now a short while, and
it's a great sight you'll see in this room in two hours or three. {He
stops to listen.} Is that somebody above?

TRAMP {Listening.} There's a voice speaking on the path.

DAN Put that stick here in the bed and smooth the sheet the way it was
lying. {He covers himself up hastily.} Be falling to sleep now and don't
let on you know anything, or I'll be having your life. I wouldn't have
told you at all but it's destroyed with the drouth I was.

TRAMP {Covering his head.} Have no fear, master of the house. What is it
I know of the like of you that I'ld be saying a word or putting out my
hand to stay you at all?

{He goes back to the fire, sits down on a stool with his back to the bed
and goes on stitching his coat.}

DAN {Under the sheet, querulously.} Stranger.

TRAMP {Quickly.} Whisht, whisht. Be quiet I'm telling you, they're
coming now at the door.

{Nora comes in with Micheal Dara, a tall, innocent young man behind

NORA I wasn't long at all, stranger, for I met himself on the path.

TRAMP You were middling long, lady of the house.

NORA There was no sign from himself?

TRAMP No sign at all, lady of the house.

NORA {To Micheal.} Go over now and pull down the sheet, and look on
himself, Micheal Dara, and you'll see it's the truth I'm telling you.

MICHEAL I will not, Nora, I do be afeard of the dead.

{He sits down on a stool next the table facing the tramp. Nora puts the
kettle on a lower hook of the pot hooks, and piles turf under it.}

NORA {Turning to Tramp.} Will you drink a sup of tea with myself and the
young man, stranger, or {speaking more persuasively} will you go into
the little room and stretch yourself a short while on the bed, I'm
thinking it's destroyed you are walking the length of that way in the
great rain.

TRAMP Is it to go away and leave you, and you having a wake, lady of the
house? I will not surely. {He takes a drink from his glass which he has
beside him.} And it's none of your tea I'm asking either.

{He goes on stitching. Nora makes the tea.}

MICHEAL {After looking at the tramp rather scornfully for a moment.}
That's a poor coat you have, God help you, and I'm thinking it's a poor
tailor you are with it.

TRAMP If it's a poor tailor I am, I'm thinking it's a poor herd does be
running back and forward after a little handful of ewes the way I seen
yourself running this day, young fellow, and you coming from the fair.

{Nora comes back to the table.}

NORA {To Micheal in a low voice.} Let you not mind him at all, Micheal
Dara, he has a drop taken and it's soon he'll be falling asleep.

MICHEAL It's no lie he's telling, I was destroyed surely. They were that
wilful they were running off into one man's bit of oats, and another
man's bit of hay, and tumbling into the red bogs till it's more like a
pack of old goats than sheep they were. Mountain ewes is a queer breed,
Nora Burke, and I'm not used to them at all.

NORA {Settling the tea things.} There's no one can drive a mountain ewe
but the men do be reared in the Glen Malure, I've heard them say, and
above by Rathvanna, and the Glen Imaal, men the like of Patch Darcy, God
spare his soul, who would walk through five hundred sheep and miss one
of them, and he not reckoning them at all.

MICHEAL {Uneasily.} Is it the man went queer in his head the year that's

NORA It is surely.

TRAMP {Plaintively.} That was a great man, young fellow, a great man I'm
telling you. There was never a lamb from his own ewes he wouldn't know
before it was marked, and he'ld run from this to the city of Dublin and
never catch for his breath.

NORA {Turning round quickly.} He was a great man surely, stranger, and
isn't it a grand thing when you hear a living man saying a good word of
a dead man, and he mad dying?

TRAMP It's the truth I'm saying, God spare his soul.

{He puts the needle under the collar of his coat, and settles himself
to sleep in the chimney-corner. Nora sits down at the table; their backs
are turned to the bed.}

MICHEAL {Looking at her with a queer look.} I heard tell this day, Nora
Burke, that it was on the path below Patch Darcy would be passing up and
passing down, and I heard them say he'ld never past it night or morning
without speaking with yourself.

NORA {In a low voice.} It was no lie you heard, Micheal Dara.

MICHEAL I'm thinking it's a power of men you're after knowing if it's in
a lonesome place you live itself.

NORA {Giving him his tea.} It's in a lonesome place you do have to be
talking with some one, and looking for some one, in the evening of the
day, and if it's a power of men I'm after knowing they were fine men,
for I was a hard child to please, and a hard girl to please {she looks
at him a little sternly}, and it's a hard woman I am to please this day,
Micheal Dara, and it's no lie I'm telling you.

MICHEAL {Looking over to see that the tramp is asleep, and then pointing
to the dead man.} Was it a hard woman to please you were when you took
himself for your man?

NORA What way would I live and I an old woman if I didn't marry a man
with a bit of a farm, and cows on it, and sheep on the back hills?

MICHEAL {Considering.} That's true, Nora, and maybe it's no fool you
were, for there's good grazing on it, if it is a lonesome place, and I'm
thinking it's a good sum he's left behind. 28

NORA {Taking the stocking with money from her pocket, and putting it on
the table.} I do be thinking in the long nights it was a big fool I was
that time, Micheal Dara, for what good is a bit of a farm with cows on
it, and sheep on the back hills, when you do be sitting looking out from
a door the like of that door, and seeing nothing but the mists rolling
down the bog, and the mists again, and they rolling up the bog, and
hearing nothing but the wind crying out in the bits of broken trees were
left from the great storm, and the streams roaring with the rain.

MICHEAL {Looking at her uneasily.} What is it ails you, this night, Nora
Burke? I've heard tell it's the like of that talk you do hear from men,
and they after being a great while on the back hills.

NORA {Putting out the money on the table.} It's a bad night, and a wild
night, Micheal Dara, and isn't it a great while I am at the foot of the
back hills, sitting up here boiling food for himself, and food for the
brood sow, and baking a cake when the night falls? {She puts up the
money, listlessly, in little piles on the table.} Isn't it a long while
I am sitting here in the winter and the summer, and the fine spring,
with the young growing behind me and the old passing, saying to myself
one time, to look on Mary Brien who wasn't that height {holding out
her hand}, and I a fine girl growing up, and there she is now with
two children, and another coming on her in three months or four. {She

MICHEAL {Moving over three of the piles.} That's three pounds we have
now, Nora Burke.

NORA {Continuing in the same voice.} And saying to myself another time,
to look on Peggy Cavanagh, who had the lightest hand at milking a cow
that wouldn't be easy, or turning a cake, and there she is now walking
round on the roads, or sitting in a dirty old house, with no teeth in
her mouth, and no sense and no more hair than you'ld see on a bit of a
hill and they after burning the furze from it.

MICHEAL That's five pounds and ten notes, a good sum, surely!... It's
not that way you'll be talking when you marry a young man, Nora Burke,
and they were saying in the fair my lambs were the best lambs, and I got
a grand price, for I'm no fool now at making a bargain when my lambs are

NORA What was it you got?

MICHEAL Twenty pound for the lot, Nora Burke.... We'ld do right to wait
now till himself will be quiet awhile in the Seven Churches, and then
you'll marry me in the chapel of Rathvanna, and I'll bring the sheep up
on the bit of a hill you have on the back mountain, and we won't have
anything we'ld be afeard to let our minds on when the mist is down.

NORA {Pouring him out some whisky.} Why would I marry you, Mike Dara?
You'll be getting old and I'll be getting old, and in a little while
I'm telling you, you'll be sitting up in your bed--the way himself was
sitting--with a shake in your face, and your teeth falling, and the
white hair sticking out round you like an old bush where sheep do be
leaping a gap.

{Dan Burke sits up noiselessly from under the sheet, with his hand to
his face. His white hair is sticking out round his head.}

NORA {Goes on slowly without hearing him.} It's a pitiful thing to be
getting old, but it's a queer thing surely. It's a queer thing to see
an old man sitting up there in his bed with no teeth in him, and a rough
word in his mouth, and his chin the way it would take the bark from the
edge of an oak board you'ld have building a door.... God forgive me,
Micheal Dara, we'll all be getting old, but it's a queer thing surely.

MICHEAL It's too lonesome you are from living a long time with an old
man, Nora, and you're talking again like a herd that would be coming
down from the thick mist {he puts his arm round her}, but it's a fine
life you'll have now with a young man, a fine life surely....

{Dan sneezes violently. Micheal tries to get to the door, but before
he can do so, Dan jumps out of the bed in queer white clothes, with his
stick in his hand, and goes over and puts his back against it.}

MICHEAL Son of God deliver us.

{Crosses himself, and goes backward across the room.}

DAN {Holding up his hand at him.} Now you'll not marry her the time I'm
rotting below in the Seven Churches, and you'll see the thing I'll give
you will follow you on the back mountains when the wind is high.

MICHEAL {To Nora.} Get me out of it, Nora, for the love of God. He
always did what you bid him, and I'm thinking he would do it now.

NORA {Looking at the Tramp.} Is it dead he is or living?

DAN {Turning towards her.} It's little you care if it's dead or living I
am, but there'll be an end now of your fine times, and all the talk you
have of young men and old men, and of the mist coming up or going down.
{He opens the door.} You'll walk out now from that door, Nora Burke,
and it's not to-morrow, or the next day, or any day of your life, that
you'll put in your foot through it again.

TRAMP {Standing up.} It's a hard thing you're saying for an old man,
master of the house, and what would the like of her do if you put her
out on the roads?

DAN Let her walk round the like of Peggy Cavanagh below, and be begging
money at the cross-road, or selling songs to the men. {To Nora.} Walk
out now, Nora Burke, and it's soon you'll be getting old with that life,
I'm telling you; it's soon your teeth'll be falling and your head'll be
the like of a bush where sheep do be leaping a gap.

{He pauses: she looks round at Micheal.}

MICHEAL {Timidly.} There's a fine Union below in Rathdrum.

DAN The like of her would never go there.... It's lonesome roads she'll
be going and hiding herself away till the end will come, and they
find her stretched like a dead sheep with the frost on her, or the big
spiders, maybe, and they putting their webs on her, in the butt of a

NORA {Angrily.} What way will yourself be that day, Daniel Burke? What
way will you be that day and you lying down a long while in your grave?
For it's bad you are living, and it's bad you'll be when you're dead.
{She looks at him a moment fiercely, then half turns away and speaks
plaintively again.} Yet, if it is itself, Daniel Burke, who can help it
at all, and let you be getting up into your bed, and not be taking your
death with the wind blowing on you, and the rain with it, and you half
in your skin.

DAN It's proud and happy you'ld be if I was getting my death the day I
was shut of yourself. {Pointing to the door.} Let you walk out through
that door, I'm telling you, and let you not be passing this way if it's
hungry you are, or wanting a bed.

TRAMP {Pointing to Micheal.} Maybe himself would take her.

NORA What would he do with me now?

TRAMP Give you the half of a dry bed, and good food in your mouth.

DAN Is it a fool you think him, stranger, or is it a fool you were born
yourself? Let her walk out of that door, and let you go along with
her, stranger--if it's raining itself--for it's too much talk you have

TRAMP {Going over to Nora.} We'll be going now, lady of the house--the
rain is falling, but the air is kind and maybe it'll be a grand morning
by the grace of God.

NORA What good is a grand morning when I'm destroyed surely, and I going
out to get my death walking the roads?

TRAMP You'll not be getting your death with myself, lady of the house,
and I knowing all the ways a man can put food in his mouth.... We'll be
going now, I'm telling you, and the time you'll be feeling the cold,
and the frost, and the great rain, and the sun again, and the south wind
blowing in the glens, you'll not be sitting up on a wet ditch, the way
you're after sitting in the place, making yourself old with looking
on each day, and it passing you by. You'll be saying one time, "It's
a grand evening, by the grace of God," and another time, "It's a wild
night, God help us, but it'll pass surely." You'll be saying--

DAN {Goes over to them crying out impatiently.} Go out of that door, I'm
telling you, and do your blathering below in the glen.

{Nora gathers a few things into her shawl.}

TRAMP {At the door.} Come along with me now, lady of the house, and it's
not my blather you'll be hearing only, but you'll be hearing the herons
crying out over the black lakes, and you'll be hearing the grouse and
the owls with them, and the larks and the big thrushes when the days
are warm, and it's not from the like of them you'll be hearing a talk
of getting old like Peggy Cavanagh, and losing the hair off you, and the
light of your eyes, but it's fine songs you'll be hearing when the sun
goes up, and there'll be no old fellow wheezing, the like of a sick
sheep, close to your ear.

NORA I'm thinking it's myself will be wheezing that time with lying down
under the Heavens when the night is cold; but you've a fine bit of talk,
stranger, and it's with yourself I'll go.

{She goes towards the door, then turns to Dan.} You think it's a grand
thing you're after doing with your letting on to be dead, but what is it
at all? What way would a woman live in a lonesome place the like of this
place, and she not making a talk with the men passing? And what way
will yourself live from this day, with none to care for you? What is it
you'll have now but a black life, Daniel Burke, and it's not long I'm
telling you, till you'll be lying again under that sheet, and you dead

{She goes out with the Tramp. Micheal is slinking after them, but Dan
stops him.}

DAN Sit down now and take a little taste of the stuff, Micheal Dara.
There's a great drouth on me, and the night is young.

MICHEAL {Coming back to the table.} And it's very dry I am, surely, with
the fear of death you put on me, and I after driving mountain ewes since
the turn of the day.

DAN {Throwing away his stick.} I was thinking to strike you, Micheal
Dara, but you're a quiet man, God help you, and I don't mind you at all.

{He pours out two glasses of whisky, and gives one to Micheal.}

DAN Your good health, Micheal Dara.

MICHEAL God reward you, Daniel Burke, and may you have a long life, and
a quiet life, and good health with it. {They drink.}


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