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Celia A. Leaman




"The ship's whistle will sound," rang out a warning to those passengers who might be on the outer decks of the Queen of Scots as she thundered around the headland, bound for the ferry terminal.

But none of them were. They were too busy scurrying like frenzied rats between decks, taking last minute pees and locating their children—they'd long since exhausted their enthusiasm to view the landscape of coastal British Columbia, and had seen enough mountains, trees and waterfalls, not to mention eagles, whales and porpoises to last a lifetime.

Churning the murky waters beneath her, the huge ferry slowed. However, it was a tad too late for comfort! Rather than gliding gracefully into place between the ramparts of the dock, she bumped first one side then the other, causing the passengers to lurch violently from side to side like a chorus line trying to keep time with unfamiliar music.

Those passengers who had vehicles hurried to them. While they had plowed relentlessly through undetermined waters, many of them had panicked, fearing they might never see civilization again, or at least for a very long time. Their minds had become unfettered; bosoms had been bared to complete strangers and impulsive romances struck up. Now, in the hope of recovering some measure of anonymity and dignity, those guilty of such frivolous indiscretions cowered in their vehicles, gripped their steering wheels and revved their engines ready to take off (some said never to ride on a ferry again).

Life partners, wives, husbands, lovers, all swallowed nervously. Intuitive kindergartners didn't inquire whether they were there yet. Rebellious teenagers reveled in everyone else's discomfort and sang alternative words to the tune of Three Months in a Leaky Boat.

Just as eager to disembark were the lower-deck crew who hovered anxiously, awaiting instructions. It was hard to hear above the roar of engines: even harder to see through the choking fumes that billowed from the exhausts of vehicle engines running prematurely. The rule was—and proclaimed on every sailing by a 'have-a-great-sailing-folks' voice—that no engines must be started before the ship actually docked.

When the loading doors began to open, one crewmember gasped and tugged on the arm of his mate, a fuzzy-faced Scotsman, who was removing chocks from beneath the wheels of vehicles.

"Wha' is it?" the Scotsman said.

Gesturing wildly at all the cars, campers, motor homes and trucks that were now facing the wrong way, his mate uttered the most dreaded words that could ever be heard aboard a ferry: "We've come in backwards."

Their eyes immediately darted to those passengers who had noticed the same thing, who had now gone puce and were muttering much nastier variations of, 'kill the bastards,' and 'chuck 'em in the drink.'

"We must keep them in their vehicles, or else," the mate said, his color changing like a chameleon as he made the sign of a knife slicing through his jugular.

The Scotsman, brave man though he was, also paled. (What he said cannot be repeated!) Muttering something about 'Auld Woolie', he threw down the chocks and stomped off to the locker room.


Earlier that afternoon on Gale Island—which is one of the Gulf Islands situated between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island in Canada—the only person who took notice of the errant ferry was Cosima, an inhabitant of Coma Bay, where the island floating home community was situated. Their little homes were just like regular homes, but built on floats or pontoons and moored to a dock. All sorts of people lived there, from all walks of life. Retired doctors, tired dentists, outrageous artists—which included Dot Dash the potter, often called Potty Dotty because of her strange creations.

Mystic, psychic and astrologer, Cosima—so named for composer Richard Wagner's wife—lived there in a modest cedar home, with stained glass windows, a cozy wood stove, and a skylight above her bed through which she could gaze at the stars.

As all floating homes have individual names, Cosima's was called Signs and Portents, to which came a never-ending trail of people, hopeful and anxious to have their futures told or fortunes read. That afternoon she was alone, however. Feeling the need to prepare her regular clientele for the very serious cosmic event about to occur, she was composing information cards.

So far she had written: Uranus, the liberator who sweeps away the old and brings in the new; the awakener who, in a flash can instigate erratic and inconsistent behavior, is beginning a transit into a configuration not seen for many years.

This reorganization of heavenly spheres will put extra stress on the current vibrations, and while it may only cause a minor flux in some, in others it will begin a complete transformation, a reversal of ideas and plans; a bringing up of the past and mingling it with the present.

She thought it prudent not to mention the other planet involved because people had a tendency to get Pluto confused with the Mouse's dog. The last thing she wanted was for someone to put a humorous slant on all this: there was nothing funny about time getting mixed up between centuries!

Reading over what she had written, Cosima decided it was enough to alert people without panicking them. She thought she'd been remarkably tactful too, considering the enormity of the event. There would be all sorts of shakeups, and breakups too, although that was nothing out of the ordinary for Gale where the most confusing day of the year must be Father's Day.

There was one person she knew who might be particularly sensitive to this planetary event, and that was Hannah Moon, the island's vibrational therapist. In fact, Cosima felt that Hannah would be so vulnerable she should go to see her right away and deliver her card personally.

As she got up from her chair, the ferry's wake hit the bay and the house lurched and threw her against the table. Good Lord, she thought, whatever had caused that? Rushing outside to have a look, she saw the Queen of Scots under full power, barreling around the headland, a plume of spray flying out from behind it like the tail of a comet.

Chapter One: Gale Island

Millicent (name meaning: industrious and true, and just as well for Pug Snood, the likes of whom not many wives would have tolerated for a millisecond) put down the phone as Pug, ex-president (and founder) of the West Coast Ferry Corporation, came out of the bathroom.

"Who was that, Millicent?" he asked. "Someone for me?"

"No. Wrong number," she said, quickly going into the kitchen to gather up her purse. "I'm leaving now."

"Don't be long."

Pug always said this when she was going out, and generally Millicent mumbled a response. Today, however, she was so preoccupied with the telephone conversation she'd just had with Busby Barratt, she hardly heard him.

Today was her morning off, Thursday mornings being the time reserved each week—precisely at ten hundred hours—by Pug, for when he would call President Barratt and browbeat him about the way he was running the corporation.

Always glad to get out of the house, she drove to the store; the Co-op as it was called, to collect Pug's newspaper and buy a jar of marmalade. At breakfast, Pug had grumbled at her for keeping a tardy larder because they had run out, even though she had pointed out that they were only out of them because he had failed to stock up the last time he went shopping on the mainland. She hadn't mentioned it at the time, she said, because his mind was often on other, more important, matters.

Although they could easily afford it, Pug refused to shop on the island and support the local stores because he said he felt ripped off. He was a fine one to talk, considering the price of his ferry tickets, Millicent thought wryly as she paid for the marmalade.

From there, she drove to the Cache Café. The waterfront café was situated below road level and known locally as the Crash Café, owing to vehicles sometimes sliding off the road in bad weather and landing on the roof.

"Oh, hello Mrs. Snood," Tara said, as Millicent entered.

Tara was a pretty girl and part owner of the café. She was also great with child. Her partner approached her from behind and encircled her belly with his hands. "Going to find Mrs. Snood a table then?" he asked while nuzzling her ear.

Tara giggled and rubbed her ear, then led Millicent to a table by the wood stove. "If you don't mind sharing, you can sit here with Hannah. I know she won't mind."

Millicent smiled down at an attractive woman that she would say was in her thirties. She had seen posters advertising workshops and knew her to be Hannah Moon, one of the island therapists.

"Snood," Hannah said ponderously, holding out her hand as they introduced themselves. "That rings a bell. You wouldn't happen to be related to the Snoods, would you?"

"If you're talking about Quinlan Snood, actually yes, he's my husband."

Hannah raised one eyebrow. "Ah, his better half."

Millicent hid a smile. The thought of being Pug's better half was unique. "Most people call him Pug," she explained. "He got the name from years back."

"Oh?" Hannah looked at her quizzically. "Any reason why?"

Millicent had no idea why her husband had always been known as Pug, he had never said. But her next-door neighbor called him Pugnacious and Millicent had since wondered if his peers had named him for that—if they'd dared. One only had to look in a dictionary to discover it was the perfect description for him—although it was a pity it didn't mean cheap as well.

"So, you don't mind if I join you?" Millicent asked.

"I should love your company," Hannah replied. "Although I hope you won't think me rude if I just finish my chapter. I can't put the book down."

"Not at all," Millicent said. She sat down, glad to be near the stove. It was a gusty, chilly day outside and she felt cozy, soaking up the warmth while gazing through the window at the cold, restless sea.

With a sigh, she recalled how often she had frequented the café before Pug retired. In the good old days: the days when she had met with friends, gone to functions and enjoyed life. Who would have thought that in a year things could have changed so drastically? But when Pug answered the phone he barked at people as if they had no right to call. His body language said, 'go away and don't bother us,' and they slunk away with their tails between their legs and didn't.

Tara came along with a steaming cup of coffee and Millicent pushed her unpleasant thoughts away. She closed her eyes in ecstasy as she took the first sip. No matter how she tried, she could never make it taste the same at home, but then Pug always insisted on buying the inferior brands. How he expected her to cook like a proper chef, she didn't know, when he wouldn't spend the money on good ingredients.

Millicent had never used the term herself (at least not out loud), but once, when she was visiting Serendipity House, she had overheard Pug being called a cheap bastard. She couldn't say so of course, but she couldn't have agreed more. How strange Pug was, she thought. How, despite his achievements and accumulations, he behaved like a pauper. Was that a habit from his upbringing, or something he'd acquired?

There she went again, thinking of Pug. Letting him ruin her day. And before she could make conversation with the charming woman sitting next to her, first she must look for the article that Barratt had asked her to keep out of Pug's way. Some hopes, she'd thought at the time, but hadn't said; Pug and his daily newspaper were like Siamese twins.

Nothing on the first page, so she glanced over to the second, and then the third. When she reached the fourth, she blinked. There it was!

She'd had little idea what news item Barratt had been talking about. He'd sounded embarrassed and apologetic, but had assured her it was extremely important to keep it from Pug. Now she knew just why he'd made it sound like a matter of life and death. If Pug saw this he'd be storming off to Vancouver, putting Barratt on the rack, and blaming her for their son's deficiencies. Or her son, as he called Silvanus, whenever he was out of favor. The Queen of Scots was Pug's favorite ship. He'd made enough fuss when he had known Silvanus had been transferred to her for his maiden command. God knows what he'd do if he got to know about these so called trials. She put a hand to her forehead and groaned aloud.

"Sorry?" Hannah said, glancing up at her.

Millicent looked at her blankly. "Oh…sorry, I was just thinking out loud." She hurriedly folded the newspaper, put it aside and took another gulp of coffee, but her stomach protested and she pushed it away. "I think...I have to think...I have to go," she murmured, grabbing her coat as she left the café.

"Something you said?" Tara asked Hannah, when she came to the table and spotted Millicent's almost full cup.

"No, nothing like that," Hannah said. "Something she saw in the newspaper, I think."


Millicent hurried up the steps to her car, fumbled with her keys and tried to get one to fit in the lock. She realized she was using the house key and of course it wouldn't fit. She finally found the ignition key, got in and started the engine, and drove off.

She'd only gone a short way, however, before something caught her eye in the rear view mirror. The car following her was flashing its headlights. Puzzled, and slightly annoyed, she put her foot down. The car, still with its headlights flashing, caught up to her. Now it was overtaking! Millicent turned her head, ready to make a cross face at the driver, until she saw it was Hannah.

Hannah wound down her window and shouted, "Pull over Millicent. Pull over, for God's sake! Stop!"

Startled, Millicent did as she was asked. Then, only as she came to a halt, did she realize she'd been driving on the wrong side of the road!

Hannah stopped her car and got out. "Are you okay?" she asked, getting in beside Millicent.

Millicent sat with her head in her hands, unable to stop shaking. "What on earth made me do that?" she said. "I haven't driven on the left-hand side of the road since I emigrated, and that was years ago."

"Well, your mind was obviously elsewhere," said Hannah. "If you don't mind me asking, is everything all right?"

Millicent pressed her lips together and looked away. She didn't think she could discuss the matter that was troubling her with a complete stranger.

As if Hannah read her thoughts, she said gently, "Millicent, it's okay. You can talk to me. Lots of people do. Listening sort of goes with the job I do."

Millicent didn't doubt Hannah's integrity, but she shook her head. "I'm sorry, I can't," she said. "I really should be going. But thank you for stopping me."

Hannah gave her a considerably long and troubled look. "Well…all right, if you feel you're okay to drive." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a card. "But here's my number. If I don't hear from you, perhaps I'll call you."

"Oh, but you mustn't, Pug will—"

Too late. Hannah was already out of the car, and with trepidation, Millicent watched her drive away. She felt confused now, and a little angry for being challenged. Yet, as she drove home, her indignation faded a little. Hannah had probably saved her life after all, and she should be grateful, not resentful. Then she went on to worry that she might have been a bit abrupt with her. What harm would there have been in talking about what was worrying her? God knows she needed someone to talk to.

Filled with self-annoyance she gave the newspaper a sour look. As for that, she thought irritably, it was just one more thing she must now deal with and cover up to keep the peace. She was sick of it. Sick sick sick of it.

She turned on to the road that led to Gale Mountain. Their house was at the end of a cul-de-sac, and barely five minutes away. Pug would be waiting, prowling around, anxious for her return. He'd say what he always did: 'Millicent, I'll never know why you have to take so long,' and hold out his hand for the paper.

Millicent began to panic. Just past the house at the bottom of the hill—a hovel Pug called it—she pulled in. She must do something about that article, but what?

She switched off the engine, then opened the newspaper and read what it said again. The reporter, obviously short of facts, gave details of the ship and of Pug and Silvanus. She envisioned him having foraged in the archives like a nasty rat, trying to sniff out something that would lend some juice to his story. Pug hated reporters. That's why she couldn't understand why he spent so much time ensconced in his study, pouring over newspapers. At least, that's what he maintained he was doing. Perhaps he dozed. She didn't know; but in any case, he'd never admit it. He liked to think age didn't affect him.

Her mind was wandering again and she brought it back. Think Millicent, think.

And then, it came to her. She would say a dog had gotten hold of it; grabbed the paper playfully and ruined that page. It would have to be a playful dog though, or else Pug would phone the store, the dogcatcher and whoever else he could think of, to put forward his theory that dog aggression was directly linked to the deterioration of society, and then insist they must catch and destroy it.

She began to imagine it: a large, shaggy beast with fur over its eyes so it could hardly see. That was it! That's why it grabbed the paper. It couldn't see properly and so it thought she was holding a toy and wanted to play. And that's how the paper got torn. Only one corner though, it could have been far worse.

Oh, how fertile the imagination became when honed by deceit.

Suddenly—and Millicent gave a cry almost of joy—a dog ran out from the bushes and crossed the road in front of her. He wasn't shaggy. Neither did he look particularly friendly, but Millicent thought he would do. She opened her door and called, "Here boy, here."

The dog put down his ears. When she called again and waved the newspaper, he growled.

"I'm not going to hit you, you ninny," Millicent cajoled. "I just want you to bite something." She waggled the paper at him. "Oh come on, please," she begged. "After all, isn't that what dogs like to do?"

The dog gave her a look that read, yeah, right, and slunk back into the bushes.

"Hell," Millicent muttered, slamming the door. She stared at the cursed newspaper. For two pins she'd just throw it into a puddle and trample it to death. But she knew it was no use, Pug would just make a fuss and go to fetch another.

"Oh, hell," she repeated. "I'll just have to do the job myself."

Steeling herself—and screwing up her face—she put the paper in her mouth and began chomping on it.

"Eew, eew." She grimaced at the acrid taste, and spat out the pieces that came away. She looked at it disapprovingly. It wasn't half enough. It looked barely bitten. So she began to gnaw on it again. She even threw in a growl or two for good measure, and shook her head from side to side.

She began to laugh as she sensed how a dog must feel when it bites: how relieving it was. Perhaps, she thought, she should sink her teeth into Pug occasionally.

Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she sensed, rather than saw, a movement. She squeaked, and almost choked, as Gwyneth Jones—the owner of the hovel—appeared beside the car. Millicent opened the window.

"Everything all right then, Mrs. Snood?" Gwyneth asked, in her lilting Welsh voice.

"Oh yes. Quite all right, thank you. That is, I was just…" She gestured vaguely.

"Oh, well that's all right then." Gwyneth gave her a piercing look. "Before you go home though, you'd better wipe that newsprint off your face."

Millicent whimpered an acknowledgment, and as Gwyneth walked away let her head fall forward onto the steering wheel. "Oh God," she whispered. "Beam me up will you?"



Unraveled Copyright © 2002. Celia A. Leaman. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.





Author Bio

Celia began her writing career after immigrating to Canada. She enjoys writing in various genres, wherever her imagination takes her. Mary's Child, her first novel, reflects her love and knowledge of the moors in South Devon, England, where she was raised. Her more humorous novels begin with Unraveled, written around the Gulf Islands in Western Canada. Celia is currently working on another Gale Island book, Weeds That Work and Pots of Goodness. The Winnowed Woman is a collection of journal entries, essays and poems.

Celia has also published three collections of short stories: Island Stories, Who is Margaret? What is She? and Journeys. Details of her books and upcoming events are posted on her web site.

TTB titles:
Mary's Child
Past Present I - sequel to "Mary's Child."
The Winnowed Woman
Unraveled  [a Gale Island story.]




To order this book:

Format: Trade Paperback
List Price: $15.50 USD

Author News

Author Celia Leaman, will be hosting two informal workshops for writers and readers, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the South Delta, and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ladner branches of the Fraser Valley Regional Library in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia on April 19th. To register for these free events, simply call the library of your choice.



"Strange things are happening on Gale Island. People who were behaving normally one minute, turn wacky the next. This is especially true for Millicent Snood, who finds herself driving on the wrong side of the road and biting into newspapers. Her husband Pug is a real pain in ... well, he's not the funniest person to be around. Their son Silvanus disappears with Pug's favorite ship. And her sister-in-law turns out to be what Millicent never expected her to be. Millicent's life keeps disintegrating, which, according to the resident astrologer, is the fault of Uranus and Pluto.

It's impossible to do the complex plot justice. Unraveled is a caper with countless quirky twists and twisted quirks, and some amazing insights, e.g. "Men don't move in with their mistresses, otherwise there'd be no point." Despite (or because of?) their antics and theatrics, all the characters are utterly human and believable. I loved them all, except for the ones I hated with delight.

This new-age comedy is an irresistible brew. As an avid fan of Douglas Adams, probably the funniest author who ever lived, I highly and most amusedly recommend Unraveled. Ms Leaman writes with the same wayward sense of humor that turned The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into a classic."
Reviewed by
Christine Spindler, author of the Inspector Terry mysteries.

Warning: Laughter ahead! This is the wording that should be on a sign to greet visitors to Gale Island as they step off the ferry, which is the only way to reach the island located between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, especially on the day Uranus and Pluto are in close proximity and the ferry comes in backwards.

Any reader will find themselves in high good humor as the events unfold on Gale Island on this day. Mix ups galore, paranormal visits to the past, new loves develop, mystery, over-inflated egos deflated, and more are included in the fun. And midst all this, you will meet Millicent, a woman just beginning a search for her true self.

The very talented Ms. Leaman writes with a light, sure touch that will leave you with a lightened heart by the time you reach the end of the story and a brightened outlook on life. No matter what your reading preference you will enjoy this tale. A real page turner!

The characters could step off the page and converse with you, the background description gives you a true sense of place, and you'll enjoy your stay on Gale Island. Reading Unraveled was like taking a vacation, you'll come away relaxed and refreshed. I highly recommend this book and eagerly await Ms Leaman's next book
Reviewed with pleasure by Anne K. Edwards, author of Journey Into Terror for

Gale Island is a place where everyone knows or has heard of one another. Millicent Snood is no exception. People around town know that she is too good for her husband, Pug Snood. She doesn't know why she has stayed with him for so long. It isn't for the money, and she knows that it isn't for the children (Pug has thought that they should be sent away to school in England). Millicent and Pug have two children together, Silvanus and Diamanta. Pug has also decided to start a ferry business with the money that Millicent received as an inheritance when her parents passed on. Pug has thought that he should live on the mainland and Millicent should live on the Island. It will be in Pug's best interest, so that he can keep all of his little secrets.

But since his retirement, everything has to change. He does go to live on the Island with Millicent. But just as the planets were changing so is the life that they once had. Millicent will find out that she doesn't like the things that Pug does. Everything will slowly start to bother her about him.

Meanwhile, on the mainland, a madman named Quigley Pike has his own plans that he tries to work out. He wants to take one of the ferries. Diamanta, who is now a detective, knows that she needs to find out who the madman is and what his plans are. With the help of her brother and cousin, they will try to take care of the problem before their father finds out. Word gets back to Pug that something has happened to Silvanus. Pug decides to go to the mainland to find out what is going on. Millicent doesn't mention to her husband that their son is just fine. While Pug is gone, Millicent finds out all of the little secrets that her husband has kept from her.

This book keeps you guessing who belongs to whom in the present and in the past. With all the different characters and the way they fit in to this story line it is amazing. Unraveled is a twisted tale of how one person can get tangled in a spider's web.
Reviewed by Elaine Leite for Timeless-Tales Book Reviews

"Ms. Leaman delights you with her wild and wooly characters that do the strangest things. She has a cast of comedy acts and everyone will have you roaring. Gale Island will never be the same, and anyone venturing near during this cosmic storm of outrageous behavior will not believe the zany goings on. What a great time you will have reading this one. I highly recommend Unraveled for fun and action you won't soon forget. Anyone who likes comedy will love Unraveled."
Reviewed by Rita Hestand for Romancing The Web Reviews

"Zany and for sure not politically correct, Unraveled is a unique tale. The mini-plots Leaman creates takes it beyond comedy to very real pain and heartfelt emotions of the human spirit. The corny will cause the reader to laugh out loud and the mix of emotions will leave the memory of this story in the reader's mind long after the last page is read. Bravo, Ms. Leaman - your imagination is great fun to read!!"
Reviewed by Linda Eberharter for ebookjunction

"Only rarely does such a starkly original novel as Unraveled come along which so willfully defies convention and classification. The result, however, is magnificent, providing the reader with a zany, humorous, at times awesomely insightful and tantalizing view of life. Filled with characters you both love, and love to hate, Unraveled is a keeper! Very highly recommended."
Reviewed by Cindy Penn, editor of Wordweaving

"Reviewing Unraveled was not just another day at the office for me. It's one of those books that's hard to peg by reason of its sheer non-stop inventiveness. If you're looking for something a little bit different, here it is, but hang on to your hat ... Along the way there's bursts of sensuality, intrigue, the most bizarre characters you've encountered in a while, and a kidnapping plot involving a lot of money and explosives. The trippiest thing about this book is the wry and funny autopsy of the lives of the Gale Island inhabitants. This book has everything, even a lady who pets toads."
Reviewed by David LaGraff for Scribesworld

"Absurd? You betcha! This is the oddest work since author Christopher Moore and ebook author Jeff Strand. I'm not sure that I can describe Unraveled ... it is an odd-un and remarkably funny. I was puzzled yet delighted with this tale."
Reviewed by Buzzy Leanne Arndt for Buzzy's Reviews

****1/2 stars !
"Magnificently written--Celia Leaman's creativeness screams, 'I'm here to stay!' Her madcap storytelling made me laugh and I found it hard to put the book down at times. The plot brilliantly increased sentence after sentence and the characters became more and more intriguing."
Reviewed by Jennifer L.B. Leese for A StoryWeaver's Book Reviews

"Witty, funny, full of characters you love and love to hate, Celia Leaman's Unraveled is a breezy read full of betrayal, intrigue, and naughty planets wreaking havoc on its characters. If you like a story filled with crazy characters, you'll love Unraveled."
**** 4 stars !
Reviewed by Kathy Elbinger for WordMuseum

**** Stars ! Highly Recommended
Leaman's prose cavorts around her engaging, clever story line with airy grace. Multi-level plot lines interweave with brisk pacing and depth. A delicious cast of characters entertains the reader with mischievous antics and contagious charm. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys gentle, witty humor and mild-mannered intrigue.
Reviewed by J. L. Abbott for SharpWriter Reviews.

"I donít know quite what to say about this book. I could summarize it by saying that itís a comical, sometimes zany, glimpse into the life of a fictitious islandís inhabitants. The author warns at the beginning that the island and its inhabitants are 'quite possibly figments of the authorís imagination.'

Sheís not kidding. ... the best recommendation I can give you is READ UNRAVELED. Itíll put a smile on your face!"
Reviewed by Joyce Lavene, author of the award winning Sharyn Howard mystery series.

"An absolute winner for Ms. Leaman. I highly recommend this novel."
Author comment by Jude Morris, author of the Indian Creek Texas Mysteries.





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