Merry and Pippin's Visit by KathyG

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Story Notes:

In this story, Frodo is approaching 35 years of age; Sam is 23; Merry is 21; and Pippin is 13 (in Man years, 21 or 22, 14½, 13½, and 8 years old).


Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to me.  Most of them belong to J.R.R. Tolkien (the rest belong to Mariole).




“Do you think Sam’ll welcome our company?” Pippin asked, as he shifted his weight on his pony’s smooth leather saddle.  He and Merry had just parted company with Saradoc’s horse trainer, Merry’s “Uncle” Marroc Brandybuck (who, in reality, was Merry’s cousin), who had accompanied them from Buckland to Hobbiton.  Since Merry was twenty-one and Pippin was thirteen, neither of them was old enough to travel all the way from their homes to Bag End on their own.  Pippin had been visiting his Brandybuck cousins in Buckland with his family for the last month.  Marroc was going to buy a pony for Paladin in Bywater and deliver it to the Whitwell farm, and then he was going to return to stay at The Green Dragon until the end of Merry and Pippin’s visit.  They intended to stay with Frodo for a month, helping him with Sam.

Merry smiled.  “Of course, he will!  And so will Frodo.”  He gazed at Bag End up ahead.  A gentle breeze wafted his thick, light-brown curls.  “Poor Sam’s had far too much time on his hands for weeks now.  He must be quite bored after all these weeks in bed.  And not being able to use his right arm doesn’t help matters.”

Shuddering, Pippin blinked away tears.  “He came so close to dying,” he said in a small voice.  “Just think of being trapped in that awful hole for three whole days.”

Merry shook his head, sorrow etching his youthful face.  “I don’t like to think of it, Pippin,” he said.  “That must have been just horrible for Sam.  Three days of being trapped and injured, not knowing if anyone was even going to find him!  And all because he was so determined to see to it that the same thing wouldn’t happen to Frodo, by fixing that trail.  Thank goodness Frodo did find him when he did.  And ever since then, Sam’s been at Bag End with his family, confined to bed, his arm in a sling.  I wish we could have been there to help, too.”

Pippin grinned at Merry.  “Well, I think he needs somebody to cheer him up.” He glanced briefly up at Bag End and then looked back at his cousin.  “Frodo is doing his best, and I’m sure the Gamgees are, too.  But it’s been a little over six weeks now since Sam was hurt, and you know he must be feeling pretty hole-bound by now.  Even if he’s allowed out of bed now, there’s not much he can do yet.  It’s time that Frodo had some extra help to keep Sam amused.”

Merry nodded, smiling.  “I agree.”  He and Pippin pressed their heels against the sides of their ponies, which began to trot the rest of the way up Bagshot Row.

XXXXXXX

Sam sighed, and Frodo pivoted to face him.  “What’s wrong, Sam?”

Sam shook his head as he shifted his position on the soft cushion in his polished hard-back chair.  He set his almost-empty glass on the small round table next to his chair.  “Nothing you can do aught about, sir.  I’m just so tired of being laid up all the time.  Yesterday, I walked outside for the first time in weeks, and today I have to stay off my feet!”

Frodo gave his gardener an understanding smile.  “I know, Sam, and I know it’s hard.  But remember how it was when you got up for the first time?  The next day, you had to stay in bed all day because you had worn yourself out just by walking to the bathroom, even though you had soaked in the tub before you went back to bed.  But then, the day after that, you were able to walk farther and with less discomfort.  It’s the same way now.  Today, you must rest after that walk we took outside yesterday.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if tomorrow, you weren’t able to walk even farther outside the smial than you did yesterday.”  He paused to take a sip of ale out of his own glass.  “And besides, it’s Dr. Brockhouse’s orders.  You’re to stay off that leg today, and you have to stay close to your bed.”

With a nod, Sam glanced out the bedroom window.  Since it was late in the morning, the sun was almost out of sight.  A small, fluffy cloud drifted aimlessly in the sky.  Sighing, he turned back to his employer.  Picking up his glass, he took his swallow of ale, emptying the glass, before he spoke.  “I know.  And I know if I try to do too much, I’ll be right back where I started.  But it’s mortal hard, Mr. Frodo, to be sitting around all the time like this!”  Setting the glass back on the little table, he looked at the Elvish dictionary and the sheets of parchment on the table across the room from him, and sighed.  “Even looking up Sindarin words don’t have much appeal for me just now.  I want something—different!  You follow me?”

He grimaced.  “Too bad my gaffer had to go into town this morning.  I know he had to get some more snapdragon seeds, and I know my sisters had to tidy our smial, but—you know—”  He shrugged helplessly, gazing down at his hands, and then glanced out the round window at the lovely golden sun lilies blooming in their oval-shaped flowerbed.  Their sweet perfume wafted through the window into the guest bedroom.

Before Frodo could answer, there was a knock on the round green door.  Setting his glass on the small table next to Sam’s, he went out into the hall to answer.

Merry and Pippin stood there, grinning.  “Hullo, Frodo!” Merry said.

Smiling and shaking his head, Frodo backed up to let them enter.  “Come in!” he said.

Merry and Pippin stepped into the hall, clutching their saddlebags.  “We would have come here a lot sooner after we got your letter, Frodo, but my father had work for me to do, and I couldn’t be spared until now.  My dad has sent my Uncle Marroc to check out some ponies in Bywater and buy one for Uncle Paladin, so he came with us,” Merry said, and Pippin nodded.  “He’ll be staying at The Green Dragon during our visit, after he delivers the pony to Paladin’s farm.”  He scanned the hallway.  “Where’s Sam?”

“In one of the guest bedrooms,” Frodo said.  “Leave your saddlebags here in the hall for now; you can take them to your bedrooms and unpack them later.”  Nodding, his cousins dropped their saddlebags, which landed with soft thuds on the tiled floor.  “Right now, let’s go see Sam.” Frodo led the way down the round panelled hall as he spoke, his furry feet making no sound on the floor’s smooth tiles.  “He was finally allowed out of bed several days ago, and yesterday, he took his first walk outside with me.  He’s feeling awfully sore and tired today, though, so the doctor has ordered him to stay off his feet and close to his bed for the day.”

“How is he?” Pippin asked.

Frodo stopped.  “He’s much better than he was before,” he said.  “He still has to keep his arm in a sling, because he’s not allowed to use his shoulder for another week.  And he still has to be careful with his leg, because it’s still healing.  But his ribs have finished healing by now.  He can get up out of bed now for the most part, and he can walk around the smial if he uses a cane.  Yesterday, when I took him outside, he not only had to lean on Bilbo’s cane, but on me as well.”  He smiled wryly.  “The Gaffer wants to take him home now, but the doctor persuaded him this morning that Sam needed to stay put for a little while longer—at least, until the sling comes off.”  He paused.  “He’s feeling out of sorts right now, because there’s still so little that he can do.  Dr. Brockhouse has told him to stay off his feet today, and close to his bed.  If you two could help me amuse him, I would be grateful.”

Merry and Pippin exchanged glances.  “Certainly,” Pippin said.

Frodo led the way to Sam’s bedroom.  “Sam!” Pippin cried out, as he darted through the round bedroom entrance, followed by Merry.  “It’s so good to see you.  We heard about your accident.”  He glanced at Merry.

“We would’ve been here a lot sooner,” Merry said, “but my father had a lot for me to do.  This is the first time we’ve been able to get away from our homes; Pippin’s been visiting me in Buckland, but I had to finish helping out my dad before I could leave.  Also, a grown-up had to come with us to Hobbiton, since we’re not old enough to come here by ourselves.”  He smiled.  “Fortunately, my dad’s horse trainer, Uncle Marroc, had to run an errand in Bywater anyway, so he came with us until we arrived at the foot of the Hill.  He’ll be staying at The Green Dragon while we’re here.”

Sam smiled.  “That’s all right, Master Merry.  When my gaffer has jobs for me to do, I can’t get away, either.  But you’re here now, and I’m that glad to see you, too.”

“So, how have you been doing?”  Merry glanced around the guest bedroom as he spoke.  At least, he thought, it was pretty and comfortable.

“Fair enough.”  Sam shrugged.  “At least, I’m out of bed now.  Until last week, I couldn’t get out of it nohow.  My gaffer and sisters have been staying here, taking care of me, and so has Mr. Frodo.”  Frodo nodded.  “Now, at least, I can sit up and walk about Bag End; yesterday, I even got to go outside with Mr. Frodo.  But not today.  Today, I have to stay off my feet, and I still can’t use my right arm.”  He grimaced as he looked again at the sun lilies out the window.

Pippin perched on the edge of the bed.  The soft mattress sagged underneath his weight as he shifted his weight.  “I know it’s got to be hard not to be able to get up and do everything you’re used to doing,” he said, swinging his legs.  “And to not be able to use your right arm, either.”

Sam grimaced.  “You’ve no idea, Master Pippin.  It’s mortal hard on me to not be able to get up and do stuff.  And having to keep my right arm in a sling all the time makes it harder.”  He glanced up at his employer and sighed.  “I want to get up and do—something!  I don’t want to just sit around all day.”

“I know, Sam,” Merry said sympathetically.  “I know it’s hard.  But if this is what the healer says you have to do, then you’ll have to do it.  Otherwise, you’ll have a setback, and it’ll take you much longer to recover than it would otherwise.”

Pippin glanced around the bedroom, and then jumped to his feet and climbed up onto the bed.  “Pippin!  What are you doing?” Merry asked.

“Having fun!”  Grinning, Pippin started jumping on the soft mattress.  “Come join me, Merry, and don’t look so cross, Frodo!  This bed is strong!”

Smiling and shaking his head, Merry joined his cousin on the bed and began to bounce.  Exchanging an amused glance with Sam, Frodo crossed his arms as the two of them watched Merry and Pippin jumping on the bed.

“Careful, you two!” Frodo warned.  “Just remember that Sam has to sleep in this bed while he’s here, and it wouldn’t do to have it broken.”

“Aw, this bed won’t break, Frodo.  It’s strong!”  Pippin grinned, and then scanned the bedroom, glancing in turn at the round table across the room, the chairs, the desk, the washstand, the shelves, and the press.  “In fact—all this furniture is strong.”  Another grin spread across his face as he turned back to Merry.  “I have an idea, Merry!  Why don’t we walk right on the furniture—all of it?!  We’ll walk clear around the bedroom doing that!”

Merry laughed.  “Yes, we’ll do that!”  He looked at Frodo and Sam.  “And you two can take bets, while we’re circling the bedroom on this furniture.”

Frodo and Sam exchanged dubious glances.  “I don’t know, Merry.”  Frodo shook his head.  “I know I can trust you, Merry, but I don’t know about Pippin.”

“Oi!  I’ll be careful!” Pippin said indignantly.  “I won’t fall off or break anything!”

“And we’re going to stay off the washstand, Pippin.  And the little table next to Sam’s chair.  It’s got a couple of glasses on it.”  Merry glanced at the press.  For the time being, its polished surface was empty of the items that Frodo and Sam’s family had been using to take care of Sam ever since he had been rescued six weeks before, but Frodo and Sam both knew that it wouldn’t remain empty for long.  “The press will be able to take our weight, but the washstand can’t.  The shelves can’t, either.”  Frodo nodded agreement.

Merry carefully stepped silently off the now-tousled bedspread onto one of the polished hard-backed chairs, and then onto the press’s smooth, glossy surface.  Pippin followed him.  “Well, Sam,” Frodo said in a stage whisper, “shall we bet that Pippin, at least, won’t be able to keep his footing before he trips and falls?”

Sam grinned.  “I’ll bet he’ll stay on his feet,” he answered in an equally loud stage whisper.  Exchanging glances, Merry and Pippin smothered chuckles.

At that point, Pippin carefully stepped noiselessly back onto the chair’s soft cushion and then back onto the bed, followed by Merry.  Afterward, the lad minced onto the round table on the other side of the bed, being very careful to avoid stepping on the poetry book’s soft red leather cover and the rectangular sheets of parchment beside it.  His furry feet made not a sound as they stepped onto the table’s smooth, unyielding surface.

All the time, Frodo couldn’t stop cringing.  This is not a good idea! he thought, wringing his hands.  One of them could get hurt!  One of the pieces of furniture they land on might break under them!  He shook his head.  At least, they’re not trying to walk on any of the shelves or on the washstand!

Slowly and cautiously, Pippin advanced silently from the table onto another hard-backed polished chair that stood next to the table, and then he paused to get his bearings.  Merry stopped behind him, on the table.

Pippin grimaced.  The piece of furniture closest to the table was the desk, and it was too far to simply walk onto.  If he was to be able to get to it, he would have to leap the distance.

“No, Master Pippin!” Sam cried out.  “Don’t do it!  I don’t want you ending up with a broken leg like me!”

Pippin pivoted to look down at Sam.  “I’m not going to break my leg,” he assured the gardener.  “I promised Frodo I’d be careful, and I will.”

Turning back to face the desk, the lad set his face in determination.  He bent his knees, crouching slightly forward.  The next thing Sam and Frodo knew, Pippin was flying through the air toward the desk.  In the next instant, his furry feet landed with a soft thud squarely on its smooth, dark-brown surface.

Pippin laughed.  “Come on, Merry!” he said.  “Come join me!”  He backed up, to give Merry room to join him on the desk.

Laughing, Merry leaped off the table and managed to land on the desk next to his younger cousin.  Squatting, he scrambled onto the floor.  “Come on, Pippin!”  He helped Pippin to climb down off of the desk.  “That’s enough now.”  He smoothed the bedcovers and then grinned at Frodo.  “You’ve lost the bet, Frodo.  Pay up.”

Laughing, Frodo reached into his right breech pocket and removed some gleaming silver farthings.  He divided them equally among Merry, Pippin, and Sam.  “And that—”  He looked Pippin in the eyes.  “—is the last time any of us is going to be walking on the furniture while you’re here.  Besides, Sam has yet to show off for you how much Elvish he has learned since he’s been staying at Bag End.”

“Sam’s been learning more Elvish?”  Merry looked at Sam as he spoke.

Smiling sheepishly, Sam nodded, and pride shone in Frodo’s eyes as he looked down at his gardener.  “He sure has.  For the first time since the Gaffer retired and put him in full charge of Bilbo’s gardens after his mother died.”

Sam shrugged.  “Mr. Frodo’s been having me translate Mr. Bilbo’s poetry into Elvish.”

“And he’s been doing a fine job,” Frodo added.  “And in the process, he has not only improved in his reading and writing in Westron, but his skills in Sindarin have also greatly improved.”

“Read us some, Sam,” Merry urged.  “Read us some of the poems you’ve translated.”

Rising to his feet, Frodo approached the table across the room and picked up the book and the sheets of parchment that lay on top.  He took it to Sam.  “Why don’t you read to us what you translated yesterday?” he suggested.

Nodding, Sam took the book and sheets of parchment from Frodo.  The three gentlehobbits all took chairs surrounding Sam.  He opened the book’s soft front leather cover, and then he flipped through the pages of parchment until he came to a lengthy poem that he had spent the last several days translating into Sindarin, and began to read it aloud in the Westron version.  It was The Lay of Luthien, written in Bilbo’s thin, spidery handwriting.

 

“‘He chanted a song of wizardry,

Of piercing, opening, of treachery,

Revealing, uncovering, betraying…’”*

“That was great, Sam!” Pippin said, when Sam had finished reading the entire poem.

“It sure was,” Merry agreed.  “Frodo’s right; your skills really have improved.”

“They sure have,” Frodo agreed, and Pippin nodded agreement; Sam beamed.  “And now, how about reading it to us in Sindarin?” Frodo suggested, as he brushed his dark-brown curls out of his face.  Nodding, Sam picked up the sheets of parchment that he had written the poem’s translation on and read out loud the lengthy poem again.

“Good job, Sam!” Pippin exclaimed, as Sam straightened the sheets of parchment and laid them on his lap.  “Frodo’s right—your skills have improved not just in the Common Speech, but in Sindarin, too!”

“They have, indeed,” Frodo said, smiling proudly.  “And since it would be a real shame to see them go to waste when you return home, Sam, I’ve made you a complete copy of Bilbo’s poetry book.  You’re not the only one who’s been busy these last weeks.  And I’ve ordered you a copy of Bilbo’s Elvish dictionary; it arrived while you were napping this morning.  When it’s time for you to return to Bagshot Row, I’ll give them to you.”

A joyful expression, followed by distress, etched Sam’s face.  “Thank you, Mr. Frodo!” he said.  “But what will my gaffer say?”

“Say about what?”

Hamfast entered the guest bedroom, followed by Marigold and Daisy.  “We got them seeds, Mr. Frodo,” he said.  “Tom and Jolly’ll be planting them tomorrow.”

“That’s good.”  Frodo smiled.  “Thank you, Master Hamfast.”

“Yeah.  Well, I’ll be watching them, to make sure they do it right.”  The Gaffer scanned the faces of the assembled hobbits.  “Good to see you, Master Merry, Master Pippin.”

Merry smiled.  “Pippin and I came to see Sam, Master Hamfast.  Frodo wrote us and told us about his accident a day or so after it happened.  We came to help you and Frodo cheer him up.  We’ll be staying a month.”

“Thank you.”  The Gaffer looked into his son’s eyes.  “Now, what were you folk a-talking about when we came in?”

Frodo rose to his feet.  “Come with me to the study, Gaffer, and I’ll explain.”

“Daisy and I’ll make lunch, Gaffer,” Marigold said.  Nodding, the Gaffer followed Frodo out the bedroom door and down the hall to the study.  As they entered, he glanced briefly at the stacks of parchment on the desk that faced the window, and then turned his attention to his son’s employer.

“As you know, Master Hamfast, I’ve been having Sam translate poetry during his stay here,” Frodo began.  The Gaffer nodded, as he slipped his hands into his breech pockets.  “It’s been keeping him occupied.  Time would have hung far too heavily on his hands, restricted to bed and then to the smial as he’s been since he was rescued, if I had not given him this task to keep him busy.”

Reluctantly, Hamfast nodded.  He hadn’t liked it, but he had been able to see Frodo’s point when the gentlehobbit had explained it to him several weeks before.

“It’s not going to be over when he returns home, you know,” Frodo went on.  “He’ll be well enough to return to Bagshot Row, but not yet well enough to get back to work.  It’s going to be a few months yet before he can do that.  When you take him home, time’s still going to hang pretty heavily on his hands unless he has something to do.  He’ll be required to do some daily exercises to strengthen his body, but they will only take a few of his daily waking hours to perform.”

He paused.  “I’ve collected a few gifts to give to Sam when he goes home.  A copy of the poetry that Bilbo collected, an Elvish dictionary like mine, some parchment, and some ink and quills.  And since your table has to be used for preparing foods much of the time, and since your smial has no desk, I’ve had him a lap desk made, too.  If he can continue what he started while he’s in convalescence, time will pass quicker for him.  Also—”  Frodo cleared his throat.  “Also, I’ve decided to give him Bilbo’s cane.  I have no need for it, and should that change in the future, I shall have a new one made.  Sam’s going to need a cane for some time to come, you know, while his leg’s mending.”

It was clear from the expression on the Gaffer’s face that he wanted to argue, but Frodo raised an eyebrow and smiled as he looked into Hamfast’s face.  “You wouldn’t want your son to sit around in your smial all day, bored, with nothing to do, Master Hamfast,” he pointed out gently.  “And his body will need support when he’s on his feet.”

Hamfast sighed.  “No, that’s true.  Once again, you done it again, Mr. Frodo.  I don’t know how you and Mr. Bilbo keep talking me round.”  He shook his head.

Amused, Frodo reached out to touch the rough, homespun yellow sleeve enclosing the Gaffer’s left arm.  “I know you love him, Master Hamfast.  I do, too.  We all do.”  He paused.  “The things I’m giving Sam are gifts—you can call them get-well presents, if you like.  They will be his to keep.  I would strongly urge you to allow Sam to continue using them even after he’s well enough to get back to work.  He won’t have to use the cane once his leg has finished mending, but if he should hurt it again in the future, it’ll come in handy once more.  As for the rest of his gifts, the work he does for me in the gardens doesn’t take all day to complete, you know.  As a rule, he’s usually finished by mid-afternoon—sometimes, earlier.  And it will give him something to do when his work is finished for the day—not that he doesn’t already, I know,” he added hastily.  “I’ve seen his fine woodcarvings.  But it’ll give him something extra to do on his own time, and it gives him pleasure to read, Master Hamfast—I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen the brightness in his eyes whenever he has a chance to read a book, to enter the magical world of literature.  And to have the chance to learn Elvish has really broadened his mind.  It’s done him good, not harm.”

Hamfast raised his hands in surrender.  “All right, Mr. Frodo, you’ve made your point.  I’ll let Sam keep the books and other stuff, and so long as he doesn’t neglect his work, I’ll let him use them.”

Frodo beamed.  “Thank you, Gaffer!  And I know that Sam will thank you, too.”

I’m not sure it’s doing him good,” the Gaffer grumbled, as he followed Frodo back to Sam’s bedroom.  “But I suppose it ain’t doing him no harm either, as you said.”

They stepped into the bedroom to find Sam bent over, translating a short poem; after Frodo and the Gaffer had left, Merry had laid the lap desk on the gardener’s lap and had arranged the materials on its smooth, glossy surface.  As Sam had been doing all that time, he would memorize a line while holding the poetry book open in his left hand, set the open book on the lap desk face-down, pick up the Elvish dictionary with his left hand and look up the Sindarin equivalent on the words in that line, set the dictionary down, use his left hand to dip the quill into the bottle of ink, and then write that line of poetry on the parchment in Sindarin.  Sam was so engrossed in his work that he failed to hear his father and Frodo re-enter the bedroom.

Shaking his head, the Gaffer leaned against the wall, folded his arms across his chest, and watched his son.  Silently, Marigold and Daisy re-entered the bedroom, Marigold holding a tray of food.  They paused to watch their brother; silently, Marigold laid the tray on the press’s glossy surface.

At last, with a sigh, after Sam had finished translating the poem’s last line, he closed the poetry book, looked over the Elvish script’s elaborate loops and dots covering the parchment, leaned back in his chair, and noticed that his father and Frodo had returned.  With a shrug, he smiled sheepishly.  Hamfast shook his head again as he approached Sam.  “I see you’ve been busy, son,” he said, laying his callused left hand on the back of the chair.

With a nod, Sam picked up the poetry book, opened its soft red leather covers, and read the short poem aloud in Westron.  Then he held up the sheet of parchment and read that same poem aloud again, in Sindarin.  “It’s even beautifuller in Elvish than in our language, Gaffer,” he said with a broad smile, when he was finished.

“Well, to me, it sounds like naught but twaddle.”  Hamfast grimaced.  “However, Mr. Frodo made his point, so I won’t forbid you, Sam.  When the doctor gives you leave to come home, I’ll let you keep the books and other stuff he’s giving you.”

Sam’s face shone.  “Thank you, Gaffer!”

“I expect you to do your work, though, Sam.  That comes first.”  The Gaffer held up his index finger for emphasis.  “You’re not to neglect it for reading or writing.”

Sam nodded his acquiescence.  “Yes, Gaffer.”

Marigold smiled broadly as she glanced toward the tray on the press.  “Lunch is ready, everyone!  When we’ve all eaten, read us another poem, Sam!  But in our tongue, please.”  Daisy nodded agreement.  Merry and Pippin exchanged a grin with Frodo.

“All right, everyone.”  Smiling, Frodo rose to his feet, picked up the lap desk and, circling the bed, laid it on the table with a soft clink.  As he returned, he looked from Sam to Marigold, and then gave a fleeting look at the tray of food on the press.  “Well, I see that Marigold wants to feed Sam, so the rest of us will go to the dining room for our lunch.”  He turned to Marigold.  “Don’t forget to eat after Sam has finished his lunch.  I’ll keep your food out for you.”  Marigold nodded.

“Pippin and I still have to take our saddlebags to our bedrooms,” Merry said.  “We haven’t unpacked yet.”

“You can do that when lunch is over,” Frodo said, picking up the glasses from the small table next to Sam.  “And then, I’ll go with you when you get your ponies stabled.”

“Yes, they’ll need grooming after that long ride,” Merry said.

While the others followed Frodo out the round bedroom door, Marigold brought the tray to Sam and laid it on his lap.  After he had inserted the corner of the napkin into his collar, Sam began to tuck into his food.  Maybe I’ll get through this day, after all, he thought, as he ate, and it’ll be easier when I can go outside once more.  Surely, tomorrow!  At least, Master Merry and Master Pippin’ll be here, keeping me company.



Chapter End Notes:

*Those three lines of poetry that Sam read to his audience can be found in Chapter 19: “Of Beren and Luthien,” in The Silmarillion.

 



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