Vesta’s Hearth Chapters 9 and 10
Copyright© Frances Penwiddy 2012
This is a work of fiction, the characters and the Café are fictitious and any resemblance to places or persons living or dead is coincidental.
A walk in a meadow with an unknown lover and a music ensemble/pop group is formed.
I had a wonderful dream and awoke without a headache and a feeling of peace; contentment would be a better word. My mind wandered back to the dream, I could remember it, which was unusual, normally I remembered nothing of my dreams.
I had been walking across a meadow and there was a man with me, a tall man and as is the way of dreams I was wearing my white strappy heels, something no woman would do when walking across a meadow but that’s the nice thing about dreams, practicality isn’t a priority. I had on the white retro dress and a white silk scarf, no hand or shoulder bag but I was holding the man’s hand. I tried to recall the face and couldn’t but I knew he was handsome, in my dreams I am going to insist on only handsome men.
The meadow became a glade, trees surrounded us but a light breeze found its way between them and I could feel it playing with my hair, the scarf and the hem of my dress. He turned me to face him and he said, “Alone and together at last,” and kissed me and whilst we kissed he eased me to the ground until I was laying on my back, the skirt of my dress spread out, the petticoat tickling my legs. He was kneeling beside me and when we broke the kiss he eased his hand beneath my shoulders and I could feel him unzipping me, slowly he pulled the bodice from my shoulders. I don’t know how he did it but suddenly I was laying naked from the waist up, my arms up and hands clasped behind his neck and he lowered his head and we kissed again, one hand was caressing my breast, a real breast, I had grown two lovely mounds and his thumb was gently circling a nipple. The kiss ended but the thumb continued its caresses and he raised his head and gazed down at me, “You will always turn heads, Helen, always.” And as he spoke little electric shocks started in my breast and slowly began to spread. They reached my stomach and I cried out to him, “Love me!”
He did and the electric shocks grew in intensity. There was no pain he just slipped into me, a hand caressed my breast until I felt as if I would burst into fire. He started to move, I could feel every gland on his penus as it moved slowly backwards and forwards and the fire became unbearable, my heart was beating so rapidly, my breathing short shallow gasps and then I had an orgasm, my whole body shuddered as his seed entered me…I awoke then, sighed and I tried to go back to sleep, I wanted to return to the dream. I’m sure that if I had stayed asleep I would have experienced a second even third orgasm.
I lay for a moment remembering and subconsciously my hand slipped down to my groin. My nightie was gathered at my waist and the front of my panties was wet. I threw back the duvet and sat up and looked down, I did have an orgasm during the night, a wet dream!
It was cold now and I realised I was uncomfortable. I wriggled out of the panties and nightdress and padded into the bathroom and sponged myself clean. I left my panties in the sink for hand washing later, came back to the room and took another pair from my drawer and slipped into my bathrobe and sat on the edge of the bed.
I tried to reach back into the dream and see the man’s face, I wanted to know him in life now that I had known him in my dream but his face simply wouldn’t come, only his body, muscled but not excessively so, a fit man rather than a weightlifter and his penus, I giggled at the thought, was a perfect fit. Had it been a dream or had a man really entered my room last night and made love to me? No, I dismissed the idea I would certainly have awoken.
But who? Who was my dream lover? Should I mention the experience to Adam? No, perhaps I might tell the doctor I was seeing on Thursday but I don’t think I could have calmly sat and told Adam about my wonderful dream man.
Time was passing and I had breakfast to prepare. I put last night’s bra back on and looked down at my bust and sighed, last night I had had real boobs nestled in there. I pulled the cup down and moved the breast form half expecting to see a real breast but nothing, no bruising so it had to have been a dream but the nipple did seem a little larger. I sat at the dressing table and quickly applied make-up, arranged my hair into a ponytail and finished dressing with a white blouse and cardigan over a dark skirt, I was ready for business. I slipped into low-heeled black shoes and off I marched to the kitchen, slipping my pinny over my head as I walked and feeling relief at not having to walk in high heels after yesterday’s excursion around Chichester. Eventually, I suppose my calves would get used to it but for the moment, low heels were a blessing.
As I approached the kitchen I could hear music, well a voice, it was Saint-Saen’s opera, Samson and Delilah, the aria Softly Awakes My Heart but being sung by a contralto rather than a mezzo but the voice was good, well-modulated and had sensitivity. Quietly I opened the door and stood still until the aria had ended, and I realised I been listening to April. “That was you singing?”
April turned, “Oh hullo, Helen. Yes, it was Maeve who introduced me to opera when she heard me singing in my room. I’m a natural low register contralto, she told me, I don’t know what a contralto is but she said I should have my voice trained.”
“She was right. Is that your natural voice?”
“Yes, Boris has told me I can have the trachea shaved a little which will lift it to mezzo but I like it the way it is, the girls tell me there aren’t many women with voices in that range, the lads think it’s sexy. You should know yours is similar to mine.”
“Boris is wrong, leave your voice it’s beautiful and you say mine is similar?”
“Yes, hasn’t anyone mentioned it?”
“Never.” It explains why I wasn’t challenged yesterday, I had completely forgotten to modulate my voice, it seems I sound like a woman without trying. “Contralto is the low end of a woman’s voice,” I explained, “Tenor is the high end of the man’s voice and it’s where the sexes meet. The highest a man can get is sometimes called a contralto tenor and a woman’s lowest might be described as a tenor contralto, and there’s almost no difference.”
April smiled, “I don’t understand any of it, I only sing when I want to, when I’m extra happy.”
“And today you’re extra happy?”
“Yes because of yesterday, I think it was the best day of my life. That’s why I’m here, I want to help with the breakfasts.”
“Thank you. Can any of the others sing?”
“I don’t know. Maeve plays the harp, Barbara and Diane the piano a bit I think.”
“No violinists?” I said feigning disappointment.
“Yes, Diane, and Maeve the cello she told me, but not very well.”
I sat down and started to laugh, “April we could form an ensemble and tour stately homes playing chamber music,”
“Can you play something?”
I nodded “Quite good on the clarinet and a bit of flute and I used to sing a bit.”
Like a little girl seeing her Christmas presents, she jumped up and down and clapped her hands, “Helen, we could form a group.”
I smiled, “We’ll ask the others and see if we can’t get some instruments to play, if nothing else we could entertain ourselves, give a concert for our mentors and the security guards but right now, we have breakfasts to prepare.”
Prepare is hardly the word, I guessed that nobody was going to want a ‘full-English’ today so it was a question of laying the table, opening a carton of orange juice and putting packets of muesli and cornflakes on the table with a jug of milk and I diced some fresh fruit to add to the cereals and that was it except to slice the bread.
The percolator was just about delivering the goods when they began to drift in, surprisingly bright eyed and bushy tailed, we must be getting used to being winos.
“No heels?” asked Barbara.
“Too scared to show me how to double twirl, not up to it when she’s sober,” said Diane.
“Pity that,” observed Maeve, “We could have run a book on which of you took a prat fall first.”
“And we have dance and deportment for the second period this morning,” said Barbara looking at the timetable on the door.
“No problem,” I replied cheerily, “I’ll pop down to my room and slip some on before dance.”
Boris came in and said, “Any chance of coffee and toast?”
“Would you like two soft boiled eggs,” I asked, getting up.
“You’re an angel.”
Once everybody was settled and having their breakfast. I asked, “Boris, is there any chance you could get us some musical instruments?”
He looked up from where he was decapitating his egg, “What sort?”
“A piano, violin, cello, harp, clarinet and flute.”
“Are you thinking of starting a symphony orchestra?”
“No, we’d need brass and percussion for that. Just a sort of ensemble, voice, instrumental and chamber.”
He looked from one to the other saw the blank expressions on the faces of the girls, “An ensemble?”
“Sort of, bit of easy listening pop as well.”
He raised his eyebrows; “Well it’s a new one. We do have a piano somewhere out in reception, hidden away in a storage room but it will need tuning. I can ask about the other instruments at the main prison, they often have stuff like that.”
After he had left to get on with his work the others looked at me and said, “What was all that about.”
“It’s as you heard it. I heard April singing this morning and she told me what Maeve had said about her voice and then told me that mine was similar. She also told me about the instruments you play and as I can sing a little, play the clarinet quite well and the flute some, the idea sort of grew.”
Maeve looked at me with incredulity, “Are you saying you had no idea about your voice being low contralto?”
“None. I knew I could sing a little and did so occasionally on karaoke nights in pubs or at the odd party, never formally and nobody ever mentioned my pitch, some said I was good, that’s all.”
Barbara sat, “Is there anything you know about yourself. You didn’t have a clue about being TG; you didn’t know you had a voice; you didn’t know you turned men’s heads; you don’t even know you can walk in heels!”
“I had no reason to take that close a look at myself. I know I am a good graphic artist and not one to cause controversy.”
“Well. You’re doing that in here, you must be about the most controversial person I know.”
I shrugged, “Barbara I had no reason to investigate myself, see if I had gifts or talents I knew nothing about. I loved my work and had no plans to change it and though at times a bit lonely, my life seemed okay.”
Maeve said, “I can play classical and pop guitar as well, stick that on the list and we don’t need to get one, they allowed me to keep mine here, it’s acoustic.”
“Rodriguez?” I asked and she nodded and said, “Why don’t you sing something for us now.”
“Why not, the acoustics in here are good.”
“Okay,” I thought for a moment and then took a breath and started singing ‘The First Time Ever I saw Your Face.’
They listened silently and when I finished Barbara sighed, “You can certainly sing, I just don’t understand why nobody has ever told you.”
“They might have done, perhaps I didn’t pay much attention to it.”
Our sewing tutor came in; “It’s time for your lesson girls, pins and needles in the sewing class.”
I have to give credit to Boris, when he says he’ll look into something, it does get looked into. That afternoon four convicts and two warders from the main prison came into the Café and entered a room opposite the kitchen. I had just come out of the common room and all eyes switched to me as they turned and waited for the guard to unlock the door and they kept looking. I smiled and started to make my way to my room and their eyes followed me until the guard yelled at them to get inside, and they started clearing stuff out. I continued to walk to my room and as I opened my door, two of them were coming down the corridor and again they looked and the guard had to gee them up. I closed the door, sat on my bed and smiled, I did turn heads and even if they were cons and probably hadn’t seen a woman for weeks, they looked and had to be hurried on by the guard.
Later I was in the corridor again when a pair of them carrying two tubular dining tables went past and they stared again and as the guard followed them he looked, winked and smiled. Oh boy, this was going to my head. I didn’t see them again, I was working with Maria and the only other person to come in was Adam, “Its short notice but before you go to see the psychiatrist tomorrow, I’ve booked an appointment at the main prison hospital and Paul will take you. The doc phoned and said she wants you for blood tests.”
“Why Paul in a prison full of guards?”
He grinned; “We can’t have you running around turning the prisoners wild. No in truth Paul or a guard have to be present, prison regulations and on top of that, he’s there to protect you from the prisoners though it’s unlikely you’ll see them because the hospital wing is isolated from the main prison but there might be one or two working there.”
“What’s the blood test for?”
“Cholesterol, hormones, liver and kidney condition principally.”
“Seems odd, cholesterol and stuff, I had tests when I came in.”
“These are gender orientated. If you are going onto a full hormone regime, we need to ensure your liver is functioning correctly and what your estrogen and testosterone levels are before we start otherwise the doctors won’t be able to prescribe accurate doses. Can’t have you becoming a stroke victim or getting liver and kidney failure. You’ll need to have tests at regular intervals to ensure your body is coping. Now you have the psychiatrist at midday and the hospital tests at ten so Paul will pick you up at nine, which will give the hospital a little extra time to weigh you, and other bits and pieces. The doctor and nurses there are all gender trained and have worked with our girls so there’s nothing to be nervous about.”
“Don’t be nervous! I’m undressing in front of a doctor and nurses who I have never met, and you say don’t be nervous.”
“The doctor is female, they’ve all done it before, seen it all before so they will only look at you as another patient. No food or drink other than water after eleven tonight.” He started to leave and stopped, “Helen, dress down, blouse and skirt, cardigan, okay. If it rains we will have to try and find you a brolly or coat.”
“No need, Maria sort that, you go now, Helen is busy cooking.”
He laughed, “Do I get any,” and left.
Shortly after that, we heard the girls come in from the garden where they had been having aerobics. Just to prove he was still around, the Devil decided to try a bit of mischief because there was a great deal of noise as the inmates of the main prison pushed something heavy up the corridor. There was even more noise when they tried to negotiate the corner, and one of the girls decided to leave the common room to come into the kitchen. The noise stopped and I heard a male voice say, “Fuck me, this place must be a brothel, there’s another tart.”
“Do I look like a bloody prossy?” I heard April say. I had to hold my hand over my mouth to stifle laughter, Maria had her head bowed and was shaking and she pointed at the hatch and managed to gasp, “Warn them.”
I opened the hatch and said, “Sssh, there’s convicts in the corridor, men from the main prison. April slammed the door, “Fucking tart, what does he think I am.”
I couldn’t stop the laughter then and let it go, the expression on April’s face was priceless.
Diane, cool as a cucumber answered her, “You were a bit slow there, you could have earned a few bob and done a trick or two,” and that started everybody laughing again.
When they had calmed down a bit, I managed to get their attention, “Stay in here, they’ve come over to clear that spare room, I’ll pass lunch through the hatch.” I went back to the door and opened it to make sure they had a guard with them and stared at the ‘thing’ they had been pushing up the corridor, it was a beautiful, walnut, iron framed upright piano, an antique. It even showed the marks where candelabra had once been fixed to allow the pianist to read the music. It had to be Mid-Victorian and without thinking I stepped out to take a closer look. The men stood back and one of them asked, “Ere, what is this place?”
It brought me to my senses and I glanced at the guard but he seemed relaxed, “They’re trusties,” he said.
“It’s a prison of course,” I answered.
“You a con then?”
“Yes, I’m in for GBH, I chivved my boyfriend for two-timing me and went too far and got ten years.”
“What’s that other bird in for?”
“Murder, done a bank clerk on an armed robbery.”
“Fuck me,” said another, “How come you ain’t in a max security place?”
“Too dangerous to the other prisoners they reckoned. One of the other girls,” and I nodded towards the door to the common room, “Her name is Maeve, topped another con when she was in Holloway.”
The first man said, “And you look as if butter wouldn’t melt in yer mouth.”
I shrugged, “I just don’t like men, they’re all two-timing bastards. Any bloke tries it on me again and he’s going to be wearing his balls as earrings.”
“Come on you lot, get that piano into the room,” said the guard winking at me, “You’ve already upset that other girl and I don’t want to finish up in hospital trying to defend you lot from a load of crazed Amazon killers.” The men did as they were bid, and kept giving me nervous glances as they manoeuvred the piano through the door and into the room.
I went back into the kitchen and closed the door, Maria was laughing, “You not speak lady-like, swear much.”
“Don’t you go talking to a crazed Amazon killer like that,” I answered and took the two plates she was holding and went to the hatch.
“Topped a con in Holloway, did I,” said Maeve taking the plates.
“Orrible it was, blood everywhere,” I answered, “And April’s as bad, running amok with a Tommy gun.”
We returned to near normal and after lunch I stayed with Maria for my one-on-one cooking lesson and the others started flower arranging and at three thirty Boris called us all into the Common Room. “Right, the room has been cleared, there is some litter and a cartful of dust, so the remainder of this afternoon is domestic science…”
“You mean we have to clean it.” Said Barbara.
Boris smiled and nodded, “Essential female skills. The floor will have to be washed and polished and the walls dusted down and there is a window that will need cleaning and measured for curtains.”
“Is right,” said Maria.
“But I’m with you, we’ve nearly finished preparing dinner,” I protested.
“Maria finish meal, there is nothing else to be done other than prepare for oven, if I need help, I call you.”
I glared at her, “That’s no way a mother should treat her daughter.”
She nodded, “Is exactly way to treat daughter, daughter must learn to keep house nice or husband leave.”
Boris went on; “On top of the value of the lesson, it’s only fair because that is to be your room for music practice.”
We brightened up then but Barbara, wise in the ways of prison authorities, asked innocently, “Just our music practice?”
This time Boris laughed, “No, we are fitting a small music system in there and bars and mirrors along one wall eventually, it is to be a dance studio and gym as well and somewhere for art classes, it will take the pressure of the common room. There’s about thirty stacking chairs in there which can be used if you want to give little concerts for the staff so put them somewhere where they won’t get in your way. The guards will be fetching up some cleaning equipment, mops buckets, dusters and, you’ll be pleased to hear, an electric floor polisher.”
As he spoke, we heard them coming along the corridor rattling and banging with our feminine skills equipment.
“Right,” said Boris, “Go and get out of your glam clothes and into your uniforms, there’s no point in dirtying your own stuff and there is a lot of dust in there.” So off we went to our rooms.
Shortly after, I was ready to start. I had a last thought and took a headscarf from a drawer and on the way back, tied it around my head. When I went into the room, I stopped and laughed, the others were all in there and they looked at me, “All this work, what’s funny,” asked Diane.
“It’s not the work, it’s us, we look like Lancashire mill girls.”
“You’re right,” agreed Barbara, “It’s the headscarves. I suppose we ought to get started. One collecting the litter and putting it into bin bags, one sweeping the floor to get the larger bits up, one hoovering and the other two dusting.”
I suspect Barbara had had some practise keeping house with Paul when they had a weekend together so we all fell into line and began.
Three hours later, it was almost done. Dusted, vacuumed, floor washed and furniture stacked neatly. All we had to do now was polish the floor which could be done tomorrow and bring up the two tubular framed tables from reception but when we stood back, the room looked okay; clean and bright, now all we needed were the instruments, practice and then, Royal Albert Hall, watch out.
We had a find when we tried to push the piano against the wall, there was a piano stool that matched the instrument and when Barbara lifted the seat we found a whole load of music scores, there was Beethoven, Elgar and Chopin as well as piano adaptations of a lot more classical composers and under them were music sheets that were obviously pre-war and including a whole load of what was then, pop music.
Going through them, Barbara gave a whoop, “Look here, Pomp and Circumstance No.1 and Rule Britannia, we can have a Last Night of the Cons.”
And in a light-hearted mood we went to dinner. Shortly after that, Boris joined us and when we had finished the meal and cleared away he took us into the Common Room. “Mixed news, we have found a cello, a flute, violin and a few music stands and surprise-surprise a harp. We are looking for other instruments and we’ll see what we can glean from other musical organisations in the county. There’s also a deal of sheet music being sent over and the library have promised to copy and let us have any pieces of theirs we require.
“Now on a more serious note. “You,” he looked directly at me, “Have a reputation in the main prison. In their words, you are a man hating ball crusher with a penchant for slitting throats.” The girls started giggling but Boris shut them up, “April, they think you are more dangerous than Bonnie and Clyde put together and Maeve, there’s a story that you have killed two prison inmates in petty arguments. So far, Barbara, they don’t know about you but if I know our guards at all, it won’t be long before you get to be known as Brutal Babs. Collectively you are known as the Café Killers, Pantie Paranoids or the Castrating Cons and the Governor of the prison has told me that inmates are now insisting on double guards if they have to come over here to work and won’t come in until you’ve all been locked in your rooms.”
Adam entered the room at that point and said, “Boris, I’ve just come from the main prison, what’s going on?”
Boris pointed at me, “Ask her.” And so I had to tell Adam about the meeting in the corridor and my comments to the prisoners.
He laughed, “You’re going to have to square it, give them a concert or something, and convince them you are really home loving girls.”
In a soft manner I think they were making a point. Prisoners spend too much time locked in their cells; we are the lucky ones in the Café. When people are bored with nothing to do except watch television, play a bit of pool, eat and talk to each other, any diversion is relief and what to me was a little light hearted banter gave fuel to bored men who embroidered the encounter and the retelling of the story turned it into a rumour and to some the rumour became fact. The majority of the men knew this and when they discovered some amongst their number who believed everything they were told, they gleefully added bits on.
I had no doubt that eventually I would be seen as some sort of avenging Queen Boadicea leading a tribe of Amazon like, bloodthirsty Iceni intent on killing Romans and if Romans weren’t available, any men would do. I stood up, “You do have a point, it’s my fault and I have to make amends and I’ll need you to help. The idea of a concert is a good one, we need to go over there and show them that we are soft, loving girls and we think the world of them.”
I waited to see their response, then April said, “I’ll help, we can do a couple of solos and maybe a duet.” Then they all started with ideas and I saw Boris nod at Adam and indicate the door and quietly they left.
We sat around for two or three hours and once or twice I glimpsed Maria listening to us at the hatch. Soon after that, there were yawns and it was time to go to bed. “If we can, tomorrow evening we should check out the instruments we have, look at the piano and start to tune up and maybe practice a little amongst ourselves.”
At breakfast, a pleasure I had to forgo because of the blood tests, the music immediately became the main topic of conversation and we started a little provisional planning. April and I would sing Delibes Flower Song duet and she would solo on Softly Awakes My Heart and I would do The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Maeve said that if I could get hold of a clarinet we could do Elgar’s Nimrod and Barbara told us she thought she could do a movement from Beethoven’s Moonlight, she knew it but would need to practise and Maeve was prepared to solo the second movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto and with a deal of hesitation, Diane offered to do a piece from Vaughan-William’s Lark Ascending. I thought about it for a little and said, “I think we ought to do some pop as well, make it as eclectic as possible a bit for everyone.”
“Bit difficult in a short concert, I should have thought the stuff we’ve mentioned already would more than fill the time.”
There were nods of agreement, “We need a producer and director really,” said Maeve “And a load of practice, even coaching.”
Maria came to the table, “Dance teacher friend of mine, she also teach music in other places, schools and colleges. I ask her to help if you like.”
“Would she?” I asked.
Maria shrugged, “Could always ask Boris to change dance lessons for music and maybe she come on evening once or twice.” She smiled, “She like you, tells me you good, interested in dance so she may want to help.”
I stood up. “I have to go and get ready for Paul when he arrives; I don’t care what the doctors say I’m staying me. Don’t write me out of the script, I’m doing the concert.”
Barbara got up, “We can’t write you out, it’s your concert, your idea.” She walked up to me and linked arms, “I’ll come with you and wait in reception until Paul picks you up.”
When he did arrive, five minutes early he wasn’t driving the mini-bus, he was driving a Lexus and wearing a chauffeur’s cap and a dark grey suit but the power of his physique was still there, he looked like one of those ex Special Forces driver come bodyguards. “Are you going on to another job after dropping Helen off?” asked Barbara.
“Nope, Adam phoned me last night to tell me about the concert that Helen’s trying to do and asked if I would be able to undertake extra work from time to time, fetching and carrying and escorting on the big night.”
He grinned, “Helen’s a Super Star now, can’t have a super star travelling about in a bus can we, its limousine work that. I sent Bill off in the mini-bus and took this.”
Barbara turned to me, “See, men! I bet when he gives me a lift next time, he’ll rate me as Ford Mondeo.”
“Not you,” said Paul, “You get the Rolls Royce, the white one,” he looked at me, “Sorry Helen but don’t worry, I reckon you’ll get a ride in a white Rolls Royce soon.” He turned back to Barbara, “You got your shopping list?”
“Well if you get the chance,” she handed him a piece of paper. “Strings for the violin, cello and guitar, chalk for the stringed instruments and beeswax polish.”
He took the note from her and said, “Come on Super Star, let’s go.”
“No wait a sec,” I turned to Barbara, “Who’s paying for that?”
“I will it won’t come to much.”
“No you’re not, it’s my concert, I’m paying, wait, Paul, I’ll only be a moment,” and before anybody could answer, I flew through the reception door and went straight to Adam’s office. “Do I have any money left?”
“Yes, over a hundred pounds.”
“Can I have it and my cards, there’s one or two bits and pieces we need for the concert.”
“You don’t have to worry about that, the Café will pay.”
“I’m paying, please Adam,” and I held out my hand.
He shrugged, “Okay,” and when he handed me the envelope I took out the wallet, my flat keys with the cash and cards and gave back the envelope. He held out a sealed envelope, “Will you give this to the hospital doctor when you have the blood test done.”
I took the envelope and ran back to reception. Paul was in the driver’s seat and one of the Café guards was holding a rear passenger door open, “Come along Miss Finch,” I gave Barbara a quick kiss, “See you later.”
“Helen,” she pointed to her lips, pick me up a tube of this colour, mine’s nearly finished.”
I nodded and bent my head to get into the Lexus and the guard saluted, winked and closed it. I could hear Barbara laughing as we drove off.
In the next chapters, doctors and decisions – Will Helen cross the threshold into a new life?
Around Easter time I hope to be able to complete the next volume of Footprints in the Sea on Amazon and if I can I’ll put some of it here.
Vesta’s Hearth Vol 1 and Footprints in the Sea are already available on Amazon Kindle through The Hat Box/Top Closet link on the Home Page.
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