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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Heroines of French Society » CHAPTER VII
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M. de Montagu returns to Paris—M. de Beaune—Richmond—Death of Noémi—Aix-la-Chapelle—Escape of the Duc d’Ayen and Vicomte de Noailles—La Fayette arrested in Austria—The Hague—Crossing the Meuse—Margate—Richmond—Hardships of poverty—Brussels—Letter from Mme. de Tessé—Joins her in Switzerland—Murder of M. and Mme. de Mouchy—Goes to meet the Duc d’Ayen—He tells her of the murder of her grandmother, Mme. de Noailles, her mother, the Duchesse d’Ayen, and her eldest sister, the Vicomtesse de Noailles—Mme. de la Fayette still in prison.
Capital letter D

DIRECTLY M. and Mme. de Montagu got to London they heard of the death of Pauline’s aunt, the Duchesse de Lesparre, another grief for her; but really at that time for any one to die peacefully among their own people was a subject of thankfulness to them all.

Pauline, who was very delicate, never took proper care of herself, and was always having dreadful trials, began by being very ill. When she was better they established themselves in a pretty cottage by the Thames at Richmond. But in a short time her husband, who hated emigrating, heard that the property of emigrants was being sequestrated, and in spite of his wife’s remonstrances, insisted on returning to France, hoping to save his fortune; [228] and begging his wife to be prepared to rejoin him there if he should send for her when she had regained her strength.

No sooner had he gone than his father arrived unexpectedly from the Rhine, where he had commanded the Auvergne contingent in the army of Condé, composed almost entirely of gentlemen of that province.

His first question was for his son, and Pauline really dared not tell him where he was, but when he asked whether he would be long absent, replied “No.” She felt very guilty and unhappy because she was deceiving him; but fortunately he only stayed in London a short time during which he was out day and night; and suddenly he went away on business to another part of England. Meanwhile Pauline thought she would start for France, leaving a letter to M. de Beaune to confess the whole matter.

But just as she was getting ready for the journey her little daughter was taken ill. She recognised with despair the fatal symptoms of her other children. She could not speak English or the doctor French, but Mme. de la Luzerne and her daughter, emigrées and friends of the Duchesse d’Ayen, hastened from London, took up their abode at Richmond, stayed with her until after the death of the child, and then took her to London and looked after her with the greatest kindness and affection until M. de Montagu arrived, too late to see his child, distracted with grief and anxiety for his wife, and sickened and horrified with the Revolution and all the cruelties and horrors he had seen.


He now proposed to enter his father’s regiment, and Pauline said she would go with them. As they were in great want of money she sold her diamonds, worth more than 40,000 francs, for 22,000, and they went first to Aix-la-Chapelle, where she remained while her husband and his father proceeded to the camp at Coblentz.

Aix-la-Chapelle was crowded with emigrés, among whom she found many friends and relations. They met chiefly in the salon of her cousin, the Comtesse d’Escars; every one had relations with the army of Condé, in prison, in deadly peril, or even already murdered. The society was chiefly composed of old men, priests and women, whose lives were a perpetual struggle with poverty hitherto unknown to them.

In the ill-furnished, dilapidated h?tel salon of Mme. d’Escars Pauline came in the evenings, after a day spent in the poor lodging upon the scanty food she could get, passing her time in reading, in devotion, and in doing what she could to help others.

There she heard continually of the terrible scenes going on in Paris, and incidentally got news of one or other of her family, and now and then she received a letter from one of them with details which filled her with grief and terror.

Her great uncle, the old Maréchal de Mouchy, had never left the King on the terrible day of the 20th of June, but had stood by him making a rampart of his own body to protect him from the hordes of ruffians who were invading the palace; her father, on hearing of these events, had left his refuge in [230] Switzerland and hurried back to the King; so did her cousin, the Prince de Poix. Both of them had sympathised with the earlier Liberal ideas at first; but now, horrified at the fearful development of their principles, they bitterly regretted their folly and came to place their lives at the service of their King.

The Duc d’Ayen spent the terrible night of August 9th in the Tuileries, and both of them followed the King to the Assembly. Even M. de Grammont, who had been strongly infected with the ideas of the time, and even belonged to the National Guard, ran great risk of his life by his support of the King on that day.

As to La Fayette, he had rushed to Paris, violently reproached the Assembly for the attack on the Tuileries, demanded the punishment of the Jacobins, and offered to the King the services which were of no value, and which, as long as they had been of any use, had been at the disposal of his enemies.

Again one remembers the words of Napoleon to the grandson of Necker, who said that his grandfather defended the King—

“Defended the King! A fine defence, truly! You might as well say that if I give a man poison, and then, when he is in the agonies of death, present him with an antidote, I wish to save him. For that is the way your grandfather defended Louis XVI.”

The same remarks apply equally to La Fayette, whom, by the bye, Napoleon could not bear, and would have nothing to do with.


Pauline received a letter from Rosalie, written on the night of August 10th. They had left the h?tel de Noailles, which was too dangerous, and were living in concealment. “My father,” wrote Rosalie, “only left the King at the threshold of the Assembly, and has returned to us safe and sound ... but I had no news of M. de Grammont till nine o’clock in the evening.... I got a note from my husband telling me he was safe (he had hidden in a chimney). Half an hour later he arrived himself.... I hasten to write to you at the close of this terrible day....”

The Duc d’Ayen succeeded in getting away to Switzerland, and the Prince de Poix, who was arrested and being conducted to the Abbaye, contrived to escape on the way, remained hidden in Paris for six months, and then passed over undiscovered to England, where Pauline met him afterwards.

Pauline, who firmly believed in the ultimate success of the royalist army, and whose heart and soul were with the gallant soldiers of Condé and the heroic peasants of La Vendée, waited at Aix-la-Chapelle, studying English and German and corresponding with her mother and sisters under cover of an old servant.

It was a thousand pities that they did not emigrate like the rest, but as they were not actually proscribed, they did not like to leave the old Duke and Duchess de Noailles, who were feeble and dependent on their care.

La Fayette, accused and proscribed by his late admirers, had found himself so unwilling to trust [232] to their tender mercies that he fled to Liége. But having made himself equally obnoxious to both sides, he had no sooner escaped from the hands of his friends than he fell into those of his enemies, and was arrested by an Austrian patrol and detained, arbitrarily say his friends—but why arbitrarily?—was taken to Wesel, and had now to undergo a mild form of the suffering he had caused to so many others.

The Vicomte de Noailles was also proscribed, and fled to England, whence he kept writing to his wife to join him; but she would not leave her mother and grandmother.

Amongst the emigrés themselves there were disputes. Those who had emigrated at first looked down upon the later ones, considering that they had done so, not out of principle, but to save their own lives. They, on the other hand, maintained that if there had been no emigration at all things would never have got to such a pitch. M. de Montagu openly wished he had stayed and been with the royal family during the attack on the Tuileries.

M. de Montagu was now with the troops of the Duc de Bourbon, and hearing he was to pass through Liége, Pauline went there to see him, and waited at an inn to which she knew he would go. Though he was overjoyed at this unexpected meeting, he had to leave the same day, as an engagement was imminent, and he remarked that those who were accused of being the last to join the army must not be last on the battlefield.

Sadly she returned to Aix-la-Chapelle, where the news which she had heard at Liége of the September [233] massacres had already arrived, and where, besides their own horror and grief, the emigrés had to listen to the disgust and contempt everywhere expressed by those of other nations for a country in which such atrocities could be perpetuated without the slightest resistance.

At the end of September she heard that Adrienne had been thrown into prison. She trembled for her fate and for that of her mother, Louise, and Rosalie. The campaign ended disastrously for the Royalists, and for days she did not know the fate of her husband and father-in-law. However, M. de Beaune arrived, and a few days later M. de Montagu.

They decided to stay at Aix for the present, and had just taken and furnished a small apartment when they heard the French army, under Dumouriez, was advancing upon Aix.

There was no time to lose; the furniture, &c., was sold at a loss, they packed up in haste, found a carriage with great difficulty, and on a cold, bright day in December they set off, they knew not whither.

The French army had overrun Belgium, everyone was flying towards Holland; the road was encumbered with vehicles of all kinds. Old post-chaises, great family coaches, open carts, were filled with fugitives; many went down the Rhine in boats.

At Cologne Pauline met her cousin, the Comtesse de Brissac, still in mourning for their relation the Duc de Brissac, late Governor of Paris, and Colonel of the Cent-Suisses, murdered in the streets of Versailles.


They went down the left bank of the Rhine, passing the fortress of Wesel, where La Fayette was imprisoned. With tearful eyes Pauline gazed from the window of the carriage, but dared not ask to stop. M. de Beaune made no remark and pretended not to notice her agitation; but he made no objection to the window being wide open in the bitter cold, as he would usually have done.

They were kept a fortnight at the Hague by the storms and shipwrecks going on, but early in January they decided to embark for England. The cold was fearful, and, wrapped in fur cloaks, fur boots and caps, they set off to drive seven or eight leagues perched on the top of open baggage waggons, seated upon the boxes, so unsafe that the Baron de Breteuil, who was with them, fell off and put his wrist out.

The Meuse was frozen and must be crossed on foot. Pauline, who was again enceinte, managed, leaning upon her husband’s arm, slipping and stumbling, to get as far as the island in the middle. M. de Montagu insisted on her being carried the rest of the way by a sailor. M. de Beaune was helped by his only servant, Garden, a tiresome German boy of fifteen. They got to Helvoetsluys after dark, crossed next day, and after about a week found a cottage at Margate with a garden going down to the sea, which they took, and with which they were delighted. It stood between the sea and the country, and near them lived the family of M. Le Rebours, President of the Parliament of Paris, faithful Royalists who were happy enough all to have escaped, father, mother, grand-parents, six [235] children, and three old servants. He himself had just then gone to Paris to try to save some of his fortune. They had turned a room into a private chapel where mass was said by an old Abbé; all attended daily, and, needless to say, the prayer for the King was made with special fervour.

The day the fatal news of his death arrived, the Abbé stopped short and, instead of the usual prayer, began the De Profundis with a trembling voice. All joined with tears, but when, at the end of it, the old priest was going on to the other prayers, one of the congregation said aloud—

“We have not come to that, Monsieur l’Abbé. The prayer for the King!”

And the loyal subjects joined in supplication for the captive, desolate child who was now Louis XVII.

They were not long left in peace. War was declared with France, and all refugees were ordered to retire inland for greater security.

The two families therefore moved to Richmond, where they found themselves surrounded by old friends.

M. de Beaune was cheerful enough when the day was fine, as he spent his time in visiting them; but when it rained he stayed at home fretting, grumbling, and adding unintentionally to the troubles of those he loved. He took to reading romances aloud to Pauline, who could not bear them, partly, perhaps, from over-strictness, but probably more because in those days, before Sir Walter Scott had elevated and changed the tone of fiction, novels were really as a rule coarse, immoral, [236] and, with few exceptions, tabooed by persons of very correct notions. However, she knew M. de Beaune must be amused, so she made no objection.

But her household difficulties were serious. Any persons who have passed their youth in ease and comfort, and then find themselves obliged to arrange their lives upon a totally different scale, will understand this. The petty economies which their soul abhors, the absurd mistakes they continually make, often with disastrous results, the perplexity caused by few and incompetent servants, and the doubt as to whether, after all, their expenses will not exceed their resources, hang like millstones round their inexperienced necks in any case.

But the condition of Pauline, brought up in all the luxury and magnificence of the h?tel de Noailles, and suddenly cast adrift in a country the language and habits of which were unknown to her, with very little money and no means of getting more when that was gone, was terrifying indeed. She did not know where anything should be bought, nor what it should cost; money seemed to her to melt in her hands. She consulted her husband, but he could not help her. If she tried to make her own dresses, she only spoilt the material, as one can well imagine. Their three servants, the German boy, a Dutch woman, and after a little while an English nurse, could not understand each other, but managed to quarrel perpetually and keep up the most dreadful chatter. Her child, this time a son, was born on March 30th, Easter Day. She had looked forward to celebrating that festival at [237] the new church then to be opened, at which many of the young people were to receive their first Communion. Pauline, like all the rest of the French community, had been intensely interested and occupied in the preparations. Flowers were begged from sympathising friends to decorate the altar, white veils and dresses were made for the young girls by their friends, all, even those whose faith had been tainted and whose lives had been irreligious, joining in this touching and solemn festival, which recalled to them their own land, the memories of their childhood, and the recollection of those they had lost.

The first register in the little chapel was of the baptism of Alexandre de Montagu, whose godparents were the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Dondeauville and Mme. Alexandrine de la Luzerne.

At the beginning of August, Pauline, after making up the accounts, told her father-in-law that she had enough money left only to carry on the household for three months longer, but that if they returned to Brussels it would last twice as long, for they could live there much better at half the cost.

So it is in the present day and so it was a hundred years ago; and the little party set off again on their wanderings. They landed in Belgium just as the Prince of Orange had been beaten near Ypres, the Dutch army was retreating in disorder, the shops were shut, every one was flying, it was impossible to get a carriage, and it was not for many hours that they could get away from Bruges upon a sort of char-à-banc with a company of actors, with whom they at last entered Brussels.


Pauline took refuge with Mme. Le Rebours who was just establishing herself there with her family. She found letters from her mother and sister, a month old, telling her of the death of her great aunt, the Comtesse de la Mark, and her grandfather, the Duc de Noailles. Here she also heard of the murder of the Queen, and all these hardships and shocks made her very ill.
Paul Delaroche

When she was better she and M. de Montagu took a small furnished apartment and dined at Mme. Le Rebours’, paying pension of 100 francs a month for themselves, the child and nurse. M. de Beaune went to live at a pension set up by the Comtesse de Villeroy, where for a very moderate price he had good food, a good room, and the society of a salon in Paris. He grumbled no more, and they were all much more comfortable than in England.

Brussels was crowded with refugees, many of them almost destitute, who sold everything they had, gave lessons in languages, history, mathematics, writing, even riding, but there was so much competition that they got very little.

Still they waited and hoped, as week after week went by. Early in the spring affairs had looked more promising. The coalition against France had formed again under the influence of England. La Vendée and Bretagne had risen, supported by insurrections all over the South of France. Lyon, Toulon, Bordeaux, even Marseilles, and many districts in the southern provinces were furnishing men and arms to join in the struggle. But gradually the armies of the Republic gained upon them, the [239] south was a scene of blood and massacre, and the last hopes of the Royalists were quenched with the defeat of the heroic Vendéens at Savenay (December 23, 1793).

Pauline was almost in despair. Her child died, as all the others had done; letters from home had stopped, she did not know what had become of her mother, sisters, and grandmother; they were in the middle of winter and had only enough money for another month; more and more emigrés were crowding into Brussels, flying from the Terror, which had begun.

But one day she received a letter from her aunt, Mme. de Tessé, inviting her to come and live with her at Lowernberg in the canton of Fribourg.

Mme. de Tessé had managed to preserve part of her fortune and was comparatively well off. She had more than once suggested that her niece should come to her, but Pauline would not leave her husband and father-in-law as long as she was necessary to them. Now, she saw that it would, as they were in such difficulty, be better to do so. Mme. de Tessé, suspecting that her niece was much worse off than she would tell her, sent her a gold snuff-box that had belonged to Mme. de Maintenon, which she sold for a hundred pounds. M. de Montagu decided to ask for hospitality with his maternal grandfather, the Marquis de la Salle who was living at Constance, and M. de Beaune said he would find himself an abode also on the shores of that lake.

The Marquis de la Salle was more than eighty years old, and had been Lieutenant-General and Governor of Alsace; he was now looked upon with [240] the utmost deference by all the emigrés around. His whole family were with him, except one son, who was with the army of Condé; wife, children, single and married, and grandchildren. They received M. de Montagu with great kindness and affection and wanted also to keep Pauline; but as, though not beggared, they were poor and obliged to economise and work to gain sufficient money for so large a household, she would only stay there a fortnight; then, taking a sorrowful leave of her husband, she went on to her aunt, Mme. de Tessé.

Now Mme. de Tessé was an extremely clever, sensible person, who knew very well how to manage her affairs; and, unlike many of her relations and friends, she did not leave her arrangements and preparations until her life was in imminent danger, and then at a moment’s notice fly from the country, abandoning all her property, with no provision for the future, taking nothing but her clothes and jewels.

Having decided that she would have to leave France, she took care to provide herself with securities sufficient to ensure her a fortune large enough to live upon herself, and to help others wherever she went.

She had bought a farm near Morat, which she managed herself, which paid very well, gave her the occupation she required, and supported several helpless people. Her husband, M. de Tessé, grand d’Espagne de première classe, chevalier des orders, lieutenant-général des armées du Roi, premier écuyer de la Reine, &c., a quiet man, remarkably silent in society; M. de Mun, an old friend, whose wit and conversation she found necessary for her amusement, [241] and his son, had composed the family before the arrival of her niece; there were also three old exiled priests whom she supported by the produce of her kitchen garden.

Pauline and her aunt were extremely fond of each other, though their ideas did not agree at all. Mme. de Tessé adored La Fayette, and the deplorable result of his theories from which they were all suffering so severely did not prevent her admiring them.

Pauline went to confession to one of the old priests, and tried in every way to help her aunt, with more good will than knowledge, for when diligently watering the vegetables and flowers she watered the nettles besides, to the great amusement of Mme. de Tessé.

Three weeks after her arrival a letter from London brought the news that the Maréchal de Mouchy and his wife, uncle and aunt of Mme. de Tessé, great-uncle and great-aunt of Pauline, had been guillotined on the 27th of June. For the crime of giving help to some poor priests they were arrested and sent to La Force, whence they were transferred to the Luxembourg where they were the object of universal reverence and sympathy. When, after a time, they were summoned to the Conciergerie, which was the vestibule of the tribunal, and was looked upon as the gate of death, the Maréchal begged that no noise might be made as he did not wish Mme. la Maréchal to know of his going, for she had been ill.

“She must come too,” was the answer, “she is on the list; I will go and tell her to come down.”


“No,” said the Maréchal, “if she must go I will tell her myself.”

He went to her room and said as he entered—

“Madame, you must come, it is the will of God, let us bow to His commands. You are a Christian, I am going with you, I shall not leave you.”

The news spread through the prison and caused general grief. Some of the prisoners got out of the way because they could not bear to see them pass, but most stood in a double row through which they walked. Amidst the murmurs of respect and sorrow a voice cried out—

“Courage, Monsieur le Maréchal!”

“A quinze ans,” said the old soldier, firmly, “j’ai monté à l’assaut pour mon roi; à prés de quatre-vingts ans je monterai à l’échafaud pour mon Dieu.”

The news fell like a thunderbolt upon the little household. To Pauline it seemed as if this blow were a forecast of another still more terrible. It was long since she had heard anything of her mother, grandmother, and sisters, and she lived in a state of feverish suspense almost impossible to bear.

It was on the 27th of July, 1794, that she started on a journey to see her father, who was living in the Canton de Vaud, near the French frontier. For two nights she had not slept from the terrible presentiments which overwhelmed her. Young de Mun went with her, and having slept at Moudon, they set off again at daybreak for Lausanne. As they approached the end of their journey they were suddenly aware of a char-à-banc coming towards [243] them in a cloud of dust, driven by a man with a green umbrella, who stopped, got down and came up to them. It was the Duc d’Ayen, now Duc de Noailles, but so changed that his daughter scarcely recognised him. At once he asked if she had heard the news, and on seeing her agitation, said hastily with forced calmness that he knew nothing, and told M. de Mun to turn back towards Moudon.

In an agony of terror Pauline sprang out of the carriage and implored him to tell her the worst, for she could bear it.

The Duke put her back in the carriage and sat holding her in his arms; of what passed during their drive she never had a clear recollection, except that in a voice almost inaudible she ventured to ask if Rosalie was still alive, to which her father replied upon his word of honour that he had heard nothing of her. More, she dared not say, frightful visions rose before her eyes, she fancied herself seated upon the tumbril bound with other victims, and the thought was almost a relief to her.

At last they arrived at Moudon, her father led her into a room in the inn, closed the door and began by telling her as gently as possible that he had just lost his mother, the Maréchale de Noailles. He stopped, seeing the deadly paleness of his daughter, who knew by his face that he had not told all.

“And I, father?” she cried, clasping her hands together. He told her that he was not without fear for the fate of the Duchess and even for that of the Vicomtesse de Noailles.

Then she knew that the worst had happened, and with a terrible cry she threw herself into her father’s [244] arms, and with tears and sobs wished she had been in the place of her sister.

The Duke took her back to Lowernberg, where M. de Mun, who had preceded them, had already taken the fatal news to Mme. de Tessé. She received her brother and niece with transports of grief and affection, and did everything she could to comfort them. The list of victims in the paper from Paris contained the names of the Maréchal de Noailles, the Duchesse d’Ayen and the Vicomtesse de Noailles, but it was some time before they could get any details.

After the death of the old Maréchal de Noailles in August, 1793, the Duchesse d’Ayen and her eldest daughter moved to Paris with the Maréchale, who was old and feeble and whose reason, always very eccentric, as will be remembered, was becoming still more impaired. Had it not been for her and their devoted kindness to her, the lives of both the Duchess and her daughter might have been saved. Everything was prepared for the flight of the Vicomtesse to England, where her husband was waiting for her, intending to embark for America. The Duchess would probably have succeeded in making her escape also, but she would not leave her old mother-in-law, and Louise would not leave her.

Rashly they went to Paris in September, 1793, and were soon detained as “suspected” in their own house, where Father Carrichon, a priest, who in disguise carried on the work of his sacred calling, succeeded in visiting them frequently; and from the news he brought them they were before long [245] convinced that their lives would be sacrificed, and prepared with courage and resignation to meet their death.

As they were talking one day on the subject to Father Carrichon, the Duchess asked him if he would promise to be with them at the foot of the scaffold. He did so, adding that he would wear a dark blue coat and a red carmagnole.

In April, 1794, they were sent to the Luxembourg where they found the de Mouchy, who had been there five months, and who were lodged in a room over the one in which the Maréchale de Mouchy was born. They had also been married at that palace. The three de Noailles were put in the room above them.
E. H. Bearne

There was a great difference amongst the prisons of Paris, and the Luxembourg was perhaps the best, most comfortable, and most aristocratic of all, though the Convent des Oiseaux, the Anglaises, and Port Libre, were also very superior to others.

Amongst many other acquaintances they found the excellent Duchesse d’Orléans, already widow of the infamous égalité, who was very ill and had a wretched bed. Mme. d’Ayen gave her her own which was better and nursed her, while Louise took care of her grandmother night and day, made the beds, and washed the plates and cups.

Twice a week at a certain hour she went on pretence of taking the air to a place from whence she could see her three children, whom their tutor, devoted to her and her family, brought into the garden below. Now and then she received and sent notes to and from him, by one of which they [246] learnt that Adrienne was in the prison called Plessis, one of the worst.

“God gives me strength,” she wrote to him, “and He will support me; I have perfect confidence in Him. Adieu; the feeling for all I owe you will follow me to heaven; do not doubt it. Without you what would become of my children? Adieu, Alexis, Alfred, Euphémie. Let God be in your hearts all the days of your lives. Cling to Him without wavering; pray for your father: do all for his true happiness. Remember your mother, and that her only wish has been to keep you for eternity. I hope to find you again with God, and I give you all my last blessing.”

With calmness they received the order to go to the Conciergerie, which was, they knew, their death sentence. When they were sent for, the Duchess, who was reading the “Imitation of Christ,” hastily wrote on a scrap of paper, “My children, courage and prayer,” put it in the place where she left off, and gave the book to the Duchesse d’Orléans to give to her daughters if her life were spared. As she said their names, for once her calmness gave way. The book was wet with her tears, which left their mark upon it always.

The Conciergerie was crowded, but one of the prisoners, Mme. Laret, gave up her bed to the old Maréchale; Mme. d’Ayen laid herself upon a pallet on the floor, and the Vicomtesse, saying, “What is the use of resting on the eve of eternity?” sat all night reading, by the light of a candle, a New Testament she had borrowed, and saying prayers.
Perfectly calm and undisturbed, she helped her mother dress, remarking—

“Courage, mamma; we have only an hour more.”

Father Carrichon, warned by M. Grelet the tutor, was ready. As he walked by the car of the victims they recognised him with joy, and a fearful storm that was going on helped to disguise his gestures and proceedings, and when an opportunity offered he turned to them, raised his hand, and pronounced the words of absolution amidst thunder and lightning which scattered the crowd, but did not prevent their hearing him distinctly nor drown their thanks to him and message of farewell to those they loved. “God in His mercy calls us. We shall not forget them; may we meet in heaven!”


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