A Treasury of Forgotten Fairy Tales: Part 15 – The Months to The Bird “Grip”

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You might’ve noticed but a lot of these fairy tales seem rather similar to each other. Well, experts have also taken notice and that’s why they created the Aarne-Thompson classification system. This is an index used by folkorists to organize, classify, and analyze folklore narratives. Though it’s mainly based on folklore from Europe and western Asia. Now the Aarne-Thompson Index divides these fairy tales into sections with an AT number for each entry. It’s complicated. Anyway, in this installment, I bring you another 10 forgotten fairy tales. First, are Italian tales about months and 3 fairies. Second, is a Russian story about a frosty old man. Third, we come to a French tale of 2 sisters followed by a Romanian one of a girl in a tree. Then we look at Grimm tales about the Virgin Mother’s adopted daughter, 12 brothers, and water of life. After that, is a Danish tale of a young man going against giants and Swedish story of a prince searching for a bird name “Grip.”

141. The Months
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Giambattista Basile in his 1634 Pentamerone.
Best Known Version: Guess the Basile version.
Synopsis: Cianne and Lise are brothers. Cianne is rich while Lise is poor. Lise sets out to wander the world. He meets 12 youths welcoming and asking him about the months. Lise replies that they each have their place and purpose and that people must be arrogant to want to rearrange them. One tells him the month of March is very burdensome since it advances to spring. The youth who’s the month of March gives Lise a casket granting wishes. With it, he has an easy journey and becomes prosperous. Naturally, Cianne is jealous of him. Lise tells him of an inn and the 12 youths, but not how they talked. Cianne goes there and receives a whip. When he tries using it, it whips him until his brother comes and uses the casket to stop him. Lise then shares his good fortune with Cianne.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Perhaps the magic whip. I don’t know.
Trivia: N/A

142. Father Frost

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In the Russian fairy tale, Father Frost, a girl is driven into the frozen cold. When Father Frost shows up, she is polite and kind to her and he gives her a golden box full of wonderful things.

From: Russia
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Best Known Version: The Afanasyev version, naturally.
Synopsis: A woman has a daughter she loves and a stepdaughter she hates. One day she orders her husband to take her stepdaughter out into the winter fields and leave her to die. He obeys. Morozko finds her there. She’s polite and kind for him. So he gives her a chest of beautiful things and fine garments. After awhile, the stepmother sends her husband for the girl’s body for burial. He obeys. But later, the family dog says, the girl’s coming back, and that’ she’s beautiful and happy. When the stepmother sees what the stepdaughter’s brought back, she orders her husband to take out her own daughter into the fields. Unlike before, this girl is rude to Morozko and he freezes her to death. When the husband goes out to bring her back, the family dog says the girl will be buried. When the dad brings back the body, the woman weeps.

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Here’s the girl left out of her home to die thanks to her evil stepmother. Apparently, she seems at peace for some reason.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Yellow Fairy Book as “The Story of King Frost.” Also, in the Grimm version, the first girl is coated with gold and silver coins while the rude girl is coated with cement, flour, and tar.
Adaptations: Made into a movie Morozko in 1964.
Why Forgotten: Depicts a girl freezing to death for simply being rude. Still, it’s well known in Russia.
Trivia: N/A

143. The Three Fairies
From: Italy
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Giambattista Basile for his 1634 Pentamerone.
Best Known Version: The Basile version, of course.
Synopsis: An envious widow, Caradonia has an ugly daughter, Grannizia. She marries a rich landowner with a lovely daughter, Cicella and jealously torments her stepdaughter. She badly dresses her, gives her poor food, and makes her work. One day, Cicella drops a basket over a cliff. Below, she sees a hideous ogre. She politely asks him to help her. He replies that if she climbed down, she’d get it. Cicella climbs down and finds 3 beautiful fairies at the cliff’s bottom. She’s politely with them, combs their hair, and claims to find rubies and pearls along with lice. They take her to their castle and show Cicella their treasures. She admires them but isn’t bedazzled. Finally, they shower her with rich clothes and ask her to choose a dress. Cicella opts for the cheap one. They ask how she wants to leave. Cicella replies that the stable door is good enough for her. They give her a splendid gown, dress her hair, and bring her to a golden door, telling her to look up when she goes through it. A star falls on her forehead.

Grannizia goes to the same place and is rude, complaining about the lice in the fairies’ hair. They bring her to the wardrobe and she grabs the fanciest dress. They don’t give it to her. But they send her out the stable door where a donkey testicle falls on Grannizia’s forehead. Fortunately for her, her angry mom takes Cicella’s clothes and gives it to her and sends Cicella to tend pigs. There, a nobleman named Cuosemo sees her and asks the stepmother for leave to marry her. Caradonia agrees, seals Cicella up in a barrel, and presents Grannizia as the bride instead. After the wedding night, he goes back to the house where a tabby cat tells him that Cicella’s in a barrel. He lets her out, puts Grannizia in her place, and flees with Cicella. Caradonia returns with wood, creates a fire, and boils water to scald Cicella to death. She then pours it in the barrel and Grannizia dies. Caradonia opens the barrel, sees her own daughter, and drowns herself in a well.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Think scalding someone to death might have something to do with it. Not to mention suicide.
Trivia: N/A

144. Auore and Aimee
From: France
Earliest Appearance: Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, best known for Beauty and the Beast.
Best Known Version: The Beaumont version, obviously.
Synopsis: A lady has 2 beautiful daughters: the older and good Auore and the younger and bad Aimee. When Auore is 16 and Aimee is 12, the lady starts losing her looks. Not wanting anyone to know she could have teenagers, she moves to another city, sends Auore to the country and claims that Aimee’s only 10 and that she had her at 15. Fearing that someone would discover the deception, the mom sends Auore to another country. But the person going with her abandons the girl in the forest. Auore hunts for a way out and finally finds a shepherdess’ cottage. She laments her fate and blames God. But the shepherdess urges that God permits misfortune only to benefit the unfortunate person, and offers to act like her mom. After some discussion on Auore’s fashionable but dull life, the shepherdess points out that age makes it less pleasant and that she herself could teach Auore to live without boredom. Auore agrees. The shepherdess sets her to a life divided into prayer, work, reading, and walks. Auore finds this life agreeable because it’s not dull.

One day, Prince Ingenu goes hunting. He’s a good guy but his brother King Fourbin is evil. Ingenu falls in love and woos Auore and she, properly, sends him to the shepherdess. He begs her to tell him whether it would make her unhappy if the shepherdess consents. The shepherdess praises the prince’s virtue and says that a daughter can’t be unhappy with a good husband. So she gives Auore her blessing, knowing Prince Ingenu would be a good husband before he leaves to return in 3 days. During that time, Auore falls into a thicket while gathering the sheep, resulting in her face dreadfully scratched. She laments this, but the shepherdess reminds her that God doubtlessly means it for good. But Auore reflects that if Ingenu rejects her over her looks being gone, he wouldn’t have made her happy.

Meanwhile, Ingenu tells his brother of his bride. Angry that his kid brother would marry without his permission, King Fourbin threatens to marry Auore himself if she’s as pretty as Ingenu claims. He comes with him. Seeing Auore’s marred face, Fourbin orders Ingenu to marry the girl at once and forbids the couple to come to court. But Ingenu’s perfectly fine with it and still wants to marry Auore. After Fourbin leaves, the shepherdess cures Auore’s injuries with special water. Back at court, Fourbin orders portraits of beautiful women brought to him. Enchanted by one of Aimee’s, he marries her.

A year later, Auore has a son, Beaujour. But one day, he disappears and she cries about it. But the shepherdess reminds her that everything happens for her own good. The next day, Fourbin’s soldiers arrive on orders to kill the king’s nephew. Not finding him, they put Auore, Ingenu, and the shepherdess on a boat to sea. They sail to a kingdom where a king is at war. Ingenu offers to fight for him, kills his enemies’ commander, and makes the army flee. Since the king is childless, he adopts Ingenu as his son. 4 years later, Fourbin dies of grief because of his wife’s wickedness. His people drive Aimee away and send for Ingenu to be king. They are shipwrecked on their way there. But this time, Auore holds. On the land, she finds a woman with her son, Beaujour. The woman explains herself as a pirate’s wife and that her husband abducted the boy. But they’ve been shipwrecked, too. Ships come looking for their bodies, bringing back Auore, Ingenu, and Beaujour back to the kingdom. And Auore never complains of any misfortune, knowing misfortunes often cause happiness.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The message that misfortune occurs for a reason and can lead to happiness hasn’t aged well these days. Indeed, we all deal with our share of misfortune, but not in regards to shipwrecks, attempted murder, and child abduction.
Trivia: N/A

145. Little Wildrose

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Little Wildrose is about a girl who grows up in an eagle’s nest. Yet, a prince wants her to climb down her tree.

From: Romania
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Crimson Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, naturally.
Synopsis: An old man goes in search of a child so someone would inherit his home. He finds a hermit in the dark woods. The hermit gives him an apple, telling him to eat half and give the other half to his wife. The old man gets thirst on the way home. And since there’s no water, he eats the whole apple. He then finds a beautiful baby girl and carries her home, laying her in a pail to call his wife nearby. An eagle carries the child for its eaglets to eat, but they nestle up to her instead. A lindworm comes to eat them but something kills it. So the eagle raises the girl with her chicks. One day, an emperor’s son sees her. But he can’t lure her down and grows sick of love. His dad asks him what’s wrong and, hearing of it, sends about for word of the maiden. An old woman promises to get them the girl. She starts a fire beneath the tree and does everything wrong. Little Wildrose tries telling her how to do it, but the old lady doesn’t take a hint. So Little Wildrose comes down to show her and the old woman carries her off. The emperor’s son marries her.

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You have to wonder how a woman can manage to grow up in a tree for so long. Seriously, trees aren’t usually that strong to hold that much weight.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The plot basically revolves around staging a kidnapping, and no one seems to see anything wrong with it.
Trivia: N/A

146. Mary’s Child

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Mary’s Child is a Grimm fairy tale where the Virgin Mary takes in a little girl. Though I find her parenting techniques questionable in this one.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm brothers.
Best Known Version: Why the Grimm version.
Synopsis: A poor woodcutter has a 3-year-old daughter and can’t feed her. The Virgin Mary appears and promises to take care of the girl. She happily grows up in Heaven. One day, the Virgin has to go on a trip and gives the girl the keys, telling her she could open 12 doors but not the 13th. She opens the first 12 and finds the Apostles behind them. Then she opens the 13th door. Behind it is the Trinity, staining her finger with gold. She tries hiding it, lying 3 times, and the Virgin Mary says she can no longer remain for her disobedience and lying. The girl falls asleep and wakes up finding herself in the forest. Whining over her shitty circumstances, the girl lives in a hollow tree, eats wild plants, and tears all her clothes until she’s naked. One day, a king finds her looking beautiful but incapable of speech. So he takes her home and marries her. A year later, the queen has a son. The Virgin Mary appears and demands she confess to opening the door. Again, she lies so the Virgin takes her son while people whisper that the queen killed and ate her child. The next year, the queen has another son, and it goes the same as before. The third year, she has a daughter. The Virgin Mary takes her to Heaven and shows the queen her sons, but she wouldn’t confess. This time, the king can’t restrain his councilors who condemn the queen to death. When she’s brought to the stake, the queen relents and wishes she could confess before she dies. The Virgin Mary brings back her children, restores her power of speech, and gives her happiness for the rest of her life.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: The plot revolves around the Virgin Mary though the child in question is adopted. But it also has the Virgin Mother put her adopted daughter through a lot of shit after she refuses to confess her minor sins (which is typical childlike behavior). Now as a Catholic I believe that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived without sin, and let’s just say some of her actions in this story might qualify as sins like kidnapping and taking away speech, which almost leads to her burned at the stake. That’s not the Virgin Mary I know. Though to be fair, I don’t think this story is meant to offend Catholics. In fact, I think German Catholic parents told this story to get their kids to behave.
Trivia: N/A

147. The Twelve Brothers

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The Twelve Brothers is a Grimm fairy tale about 12 princes turned into ravens. While the heroine is their little sister with a star on her head who seeks to find them.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A king wants to kill his 12 sons so if his 13th child is a girl, she could inherit the kingdom in one piece. The queen tells this to the youngest son, Benjamin and that she’ll give them a warning with a flag. After 12 days of waiting in the forest, the sons see a red flag, indicating a death sentence. Angry at their dad’s cruel betrayal, the boys swear revenge on every girl and move to an enchanted cottage deep in the forest, where they feed on animals. In the meantime, the queen gives birth to a beautiful baby girl with a star on her forehead. 10 years after hearing about their existence from her mom, the princess leaves to find them where the queen hid them for precaution. She first finds a now older Benjamin happily greeting her and then introduces her to the other brothers, convincing them to stop their revenge on girls. Together the siblings live in harmony. Sometime later, the sister rips out 12 white lilies out of ignorance, her brothers turn into ravens and fly away. At the behest of an old woman witnessing this, the girl decides not to speak or laugh for 7 years, in order to save her brothers.

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To free her brothers, the princess decides not to speak for 7 years. Though she gets married to a king, she almost ends up burned at the stake for her silence. Luckily, her brothers save her in the nick of time.

A hunting king finds the princess and marries her. However, his mom slanders the girl’s silence and tries getting the king to burn her as a witch. The young king is torn as he loves his wife but ultimately gives in with tears in his eyes like a coward. As the pyre is lit, the 7 years pass and the 12 ravens arrive, recovering their human forms as soon as they touch the ground. They then put out the flames and free their sister so she’s now free to talk and explains to her husband what the hell’s going on. All live happily together save the cruel mother-in-law who’s put in a barrel with boiling oil and poisonous snakes.

Other Versions: Included in Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book.
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Someone’s put in a barrel with boiling oil and poisonous snakes.
Trivia: N/A

148. The Water of Life

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The Grimm fairy tale, The Water of Life revolves around a prince searching for the water of life to save his dying dad. All he needs to do is follow the dwarf’s directions.

From: Germany
Earliest Appearance: Collected by the Grimm Brothers.
Best Known Version: The Grimm version, naturally.
Synopsis: A dying old king tells his sons that the water of life would save him. Each one sets out in turn. Setting out hopes of being their dad’s heir, the older ones are rude to the dwarf on the way and get trapped in ravines. When the youngest son goes, the dwarf asks him where he’s going and the prince tells him. The dwarf tells him it’s in a castle and gives him an iron wand to open the gates and 2 loaves of bread to feed the lions inside (excuse me?). Then he has to get the water before the clock strikes 12 when the gates would shut again. The prince opens the gate with the iron wand and feeds the bread loaves to the lions. He then comes to a hall where there are sleeping princes. He takes rings from their fingers as well as some bread and a sword from the table. He goes on and finds a beautiful princess who kisses him, tells him he’s freed her, and promises to marry him if he returns within a year. Then she lets him know where the spring is. The prince goes on. But he sees a bed and lies down to sleep. When he wakes up, it’s a quarter to 12. He springs up, gets the water, and escapes, with the closing gate taking off his boot heel.

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Here’s the dying king with his 3 sons. Still, I think it would be easier if they just let the old man die.

The prince meets the dwarf telling him what happened to his brothers and at his imploring frees them, warning they have evil hearts. They come to a kingdom plagued with war and famine. The prince kills their foes with a sword and feeds them the loaf. They then come to 2 more kingdoms in the same situation, and they do the same. Next, they go to a ship to cross the sea and return home. The older brothers steal the water of life and fill the youngest prince’s bottle with sea water, which sickens the king. The older brothers accuse the youngest of trying to poison him and give him the water of life. The king decides to have his youngest son secretly killed by sending the huntsman with him into the woods. But the huntsman can’t bring himself to kill the prince and confesses the deed. The prince and the huntsman trade clothes and the prince flees. Treasure arrives from the 3 kingdoms the prince had saved. The king wonders about his guilt and regrets having his son killed. The huntsman confesses that he hadn’t killed him. The king issues a proclamation that the prince could freely return. The princess in the castle makes a golden road to it and tells her people that would bring the true groom to her and to admit no one who doesn’t ride straight up to it. Pretending to be the ones who freed her, the 2 older princes sees it and think it a shame to dirty it. So they ride alongside and the servants don’t admit them. The youngest thinks so constantly of the princess that he doesn’t notice it so he rides up it. He’s admitted and marries the princess. The prince goes back to his dad and tells the true story. The king wishes to punish the older brothers, but they board a ship and are never seen again.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: I’m not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

149. Niels and the Giants
From: Denmark
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang in his The Crimson Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, naturally.
Synopsis: A couple has 2 sons. The older is content to be a shepherd like his dad. But the younger, Niels, wants to be a hunter. So he gets a gun, practices with it, and becomes a good shot. One day, his mom decides to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. So the family sells everything and sets out with Niels bringing his gun. One night, they don’t stay at an inn because the heat slows them down by the day and the moon’s up. They come to a crossroads in the forest and don’t know which way to go. So they decide to stay there. During the first watch, the older son shoots a stag. Niels climbs a tree and sees 3 giants eating. By careful shots, he has them fight about knocking each other’s hands and making them prick themselves with forks. The third giant realizes he’s around and catches him. The giants then demand Niels a service. They want to carry off the king’s daughter and have everyone in the castle put to sleep save a little black dog. If Niels shoots the dog so it doesn’t bark and wake everyone, they’d spare his life. They throw him in and he lands on the grass. Niels shoots the dog and goes to the gate. But on the way, he sees an enormous sword, a drinking horn, and an inscription saying that whoever can drink from the horn can wield the sword. He then looks through the castle and finds the princess, taking half her handkerchief and one of her slippers. Niels next drains the horn so he could wield the sword, before going to the gate where there’s a small door and large door. He opens the small door, claims he’s too weak for the large one, and cuts off the giants’ heads as they come through. Niels then runs to rejoin his family with the sword. He shuts the door and with a bang the castle wakes astounded by the bodies. The princess declares they must find the giant-slayer since she’s honor-bound to marry him. She has a house built and puts over the door so whoever tells his life story could stay there for free.

Meanwhile, Niels and his family goes on toward Rome, but they meet a man showing them holes in their shoes and tells them they’d been new when he left the city. Discouraged, they turn back, coming upon the house where they decide to stay. The steward questions the dad and older son and tells the princess that nothing had happened to them, but admits he didn’t ask them all. The princess goes in herself. The older brother puts in that he forgot to tell that his brother had found the sword. Niels, who guesses this as a way to discover him, wants to escape. But they find the sword, search him, discovering the handkerchief and slipper. Niels is afraid they’d punish him. But the princess says they must wait until her dad returns. When he does, the princess marries Niels who’s king after the old man dies.
Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not sure why.
Trivia: N/A

150. The Bird “Grip”

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The Bird “Grip” is a Swedish fairy tale about a prince searching for a bird that will restore his dad’s sight. Here he presents the bird to his father.

From: Sweden
Earliest Appearance: Collected by Andrew Lang for his The Pink Fairy Book.
Best Known Version: The Lang version, obviously.
Synopsis: A king goes blind. An old woman says the song of the bird “Grip” would restore his sight. The king’s oldest son offers to fetch the bird, from where it’s kept in another king’s cage. But he stays at a merry inn along the way. He enjoys himself so much there that he forgets about the journey. His 2 brothers follow. The second son also stays at the inn. While the youngest says he has to fetch the bird, “Grip” and continues on instead of remaining at the inn. He stays at a house in the woods hearing shrieks through the night. He asks about them the next morning. A girl tells him they come from a dead man whom the innkeeper had beat up and killed for being unable to pay a bill and whom he refused to bury for a funeral. The prince pays his bill but is afraid to stay longer so he asks the girl to help him escape in the night. She tells him the host keeps the stable keys under his pillow but she’ll help him if the prince takes her with him. He does so and gives her a place at a good inn before he goes on.

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Here the prince comes with the princess, horse, and the bird “Grip.” And he got them all at the fox’s guidance.

The youngest son then meets a fox who opts to help him. When they go to the castle to where the bird is, the fox gives the prince 3 grains: one for the guardroom, one for the room with the cage, and one for the cage itself. Then the prince could take the bird but he mustn’t stroke it. He obeys with the grains. But when he decides to stroke the bird, it wakes and screams. The prince gets captured. In prison, the fox tells him to answer, “Yes” to everything at the trial. When asked whether he’s a master thief, the prince answers yes. The king offers him a pardon if he carries off the world’s most beautiful princess from the next kingdom. Once again, the fox gives him 3 grains: one for the guardroom, one for the princess’ bedroom, and one for her bed but warns him not to kiss her. Though the prince obeys with the grains, he fails again at the kiss. Again, at the trial he’s asked whether he’s a master thief and he answers yes. The king offers him a pardon if he carries off a horse with 4 golden shoes from the next kingdom. Again, the fox gives him 3 grains: for the guardroom, the stable, and the horse’s stall, but warns him against the golden saddle. And this time, the fox can’t help the prince if he fails. He does the grains. But when he sees the golden saddle, he reaches for it. But something strikes his arm and he leads the horse without it. The prince confesses it to the fox who admits to striking his arm. Returning to the princess’ castle, he confesses he’d gladly take her to his dad’s castle on the horse. So the fox gives him the grains again and he carries the princess off. He asks the fox if he could try the bird again. This time, he succeeds in catching it.

The fox then warns the prince against ransoming anyone with the money. The prince rides on and discovers his brothers had gone into debt at the inn and are set to be hanged. He pays the debt. But his jealous brothers throw him in a lions den and take the bird, the horse, and the princess. They threaten to kill the girl if she doesn’t say they had won them. They tell their dad that the youngest had been hanged for debt. But the bird doesn’t sing, the horse wouldn’t let anyone in the stall, and the princess won’t stop crying. Back in the lions’ den, the prince finds the fox. The lions don’t hurt him. The fox leads him out saying that would forget their dad would also betray their brother. The fox asks him to cut off his head. The prince tries to refuse, but the fox insists he’d kill him if he doesn’t. The prince relents and fox tells him he’s the dead man whose debts he had paid. Disguised as a horse-shoer, the prince slips into the castle. He puts 4 golden shoes on the horse and hearing the bird Grip couldn’t sing, declares it lacks something and if he could see it, he could learn what it is. He calls the bird by name. It begins to sing and causes the princess to smile. The king’s sight recovers and recognizes the horse-shoer as his youngest son. He banishes the older sons while the youngest marries the princess and lives happily ever after.

Other Versions: N/A
Adaptations: N/A
Why Forgotten: Not really sure why.
Trivia: N/A

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