The Midnight Ladies And The Silver Saddles

The Midnight Ladies and the Silver Saddles

Author: N'Djamena Marmon
Date: August 15, 2007
Category: Fiction

"Clippety-clop, clippety-clop," sounds into the crisp night air in this desert wasteland 'way down o'er there' in New Mexico. It sounds loud and clear, then stops.
A fifteen-year-old girl by the name of Caroline Jasmine watches five sleek black mares, and wonders if she is dreaming. The large silver moon casts its light over the mares, and their dancing shadows jump around as the Midnight Ladies play before Caroline's enchanted eyes.
The Midnight Ladies rear and dance, like fairies in an open meadow. But soon all is silent again, for dawn approaches and the Midnight Ladies gracefully lope away.
Through the day this Caroline Jasmine worked and played, performing chores faithfully like any day, but then at night, she went to her bed and began to fall asleep. But again she hears the distinct pounding of hooves upon rock and sand. She jumps out of bed and runs to her window, to see the Midnight Ladies playing before her eyes.
"Am I dreaming?" she asks herself again. She watches them till midnight, when sleep overcomes her. That night she dreams of riding the mares, aboard silver saddles.
The next morning, Caroline ran out to where the mares had been, to see if there were any hoof prints. There on the ground lay a silk scroll, bound by the black mares' mane hairs. She picked it up and opened it. The letters were sparkling gold, bright for the eyes. Caroline read the note that said:

"What, oh what may this mean!" she said to herself. Nonetheless, she pocketed this precious bit of paper and went about her menial tasks.
That night, the moon was half-full, and did not come up till late. Caroline watched for the mares, but they never came. She fell asleep at midnight, exhausted. But, at three in the morning, she awoke again. The moon was up, and the Midnight Ladies were playing and dancing before her open window. They danced in circles, whinnying to each other in joy.
"Are these fairies or not?" asked Caroline to herself.
The next morning, Caroline again went to the ring of the Midnight Ladies, whence they waltzed in the dark wee hours of the cool night. There on the ground she looked again, and again found a note, like I previously described. She opened the note, and the gilded letters beckoned to her:

Caroline was completely puzzled. She looked up from the slip of paper and saw yet another on the sandy ground. Picking it up with wonderment, she read:
For several nights after, she watched for the mares, but saw them not. About three weeks later, the full moon again shone upon the desert sands.
Eagerly, Caroline watched for the Midnight Ladies. Then, it seemed the whole desert came alive. Five black, sleek mares softly glided through the mist of the night. Through the solemn whispering of the pines; through the whispering of the cactus spines; came ghostly forms, sweet and quiet; sip from rivers, and sleep by it. They sleep on soft, last breaths; but no ghost looms out of the stillness of their palace walls.
Then Caroline caught sight of the lead mare. She saw a glimmer of light, like metal to the sun. It shone with a rich gold color, appearing and disappearing as the mare moved. It seemed tied to the mare's mane.
Excited beyond measure, Caroline slipped outside into the crisp cool night. Walking stealthily toward the Midnight Ladies, she shivered. But it was not of cold, but of excitement. If only the black mares would not spook and gallop off! If only she could get what she was sure was the key! If only the lead mare would let her touch the black hairs upon her mane! If only…
Caroline approached the lead mare. The mare perked her ears and watched her. Caroline looked around. The rest of the Midnight Ladies surrounded her. What would they do! Was she dreaming? She walked right up to the lead mare and touched her muzzle. It had to be true! She was actually feeling the mare!
The mare whinnied, and suddenly the other Midnight Ladies began dancing in a circle around Caroline. Awed she watched them, as their pounding hooves scrunched the desert brush. Then she reached up toward the key. She took it and held it in her open palm. It was the key, glittering gold, without blemish. Fascinated, she turned it round and round in her hand. Then she looked up. The mares were gone. They had disappeared like ghosts.
Again, doubt filled her mind. Was she dreaming? Clearly she had felt the mare. Clearly she was feeling the key. Yet, the mares were gone, they had disappeared. She looked at the ground and saw a note. Picking it up, she trembled as she opened it,

Caroline looked behind her. Only one lone pinion pine was there. Could that be the magical tree of which this note spoke of. She went to it. How could she tell? Then she saw an inscription in the rough bark. Trying to make out what it said, she read:

"I see," mused Caroline. "The Midnight Ladies are a dream. And in dreamland must I find the tree. Could it be?"
The next night, Caroline watched for the Midnight Ladies. Out of the stillness of the night, she heard the pounding of hooves. Again the Midnight Ladies were before her open window, dancing like fairies in a meadow in the woods. Jumping out of bed and running outside, Caroline approached the mares. The stopped and stared at her. The lead mare approached her and whinnied. The four other mares were suddenly surrounding her.
As if urged by an unseen power, Caroline mounted the lead mare. Suddenly, everything seemed to change. A mist began to rise, from the sandy New Mexican desert to the heavens above. Caroline opened her eyes wider to see if it was really happening. Was she falling asleep? Clouds enveloped her, and a soft breeze blew around her.
Then the clouds and mist began to clear, and Caroline looked around her. She was still mounted on the mare, but before her bewildered eyes was a land she had never seen before. It was still night, but the area was forested. The land seemed illuminated by the moon, and yet, no moon could be seen. The trees whispered in her ears, the breeze howled through the trees. Two of the Midnight Ladies trotted before her, and two behind. The lead mare trotted forward, gracefully and softly.
They trotted into the woods down a golden path. Finally, the mares stopped, and right before Caroline's eyes was a tree. It was no ordinary tree. It was huge and round. Its leaves were made of emerald, and its bark of copper. The round cherries upon its limbs were made of ruby, and bells of gold hung upon its silver boughs.
Then Caroline saw a door of silver in the trunk. A golden doorknob had a small keyhole to it. Caroline dismounted and took the key out of her pocket. She slipped the golden key into the keyhole. The door opened and she stepped inside.
Before her was a staircase of marble. She looked out once more. The Midnight Ladies whinnied loudly, then, they suddenly had wings, and the rose into the enchanted forest.
Caroline headed down the staircase, and into an unknown land.

She arrived at a long hallway. Doors covered every side as far as she could see.
"Perhaps I could look in through the keyholes and see what's inside," she mused aloud.
She went to the nearest door and looked through the keyhole. She could see nothing. She tried opening the door, but it wouldn't open. Exasperated, the sat down on a bench that was by the door.
"Oh what a terrible mess I'm in! I can't get out and I can't go in, oh what, oh what shall I do!" She cried bitterly. Suddenly she stopped. "What a fool I have been!" she cried. "Of course, the key!"
Filled with new hope, she stuck the key in and turned it, only it would not turn. No matter how hard she tried, nor which door she tried, the key would not work.
She threw herself onto the bench and began sobbing again. Just then, a white cat with black socks came running down the hallway. "Oh sir, please stop!" She called to him.
The cat stopped and looked at her. "What is the matter, my young lady?" he said silkily.
"What can I do, dear sir. I came through the big tree, and can get through none of the doors!"
The cat began laughing wickedly. "How far have you gone, my fair lady? Have you traveled the width and breadth of the hall, have you traveled its height and depth?"
"Dear sir, where art thou going?" she asked him.
"Ah, that I cannot tell you. You are a newcomer, a stranger. You must first receive the password from the Midnight Ladies. That is your third battle!" He let out a mournful cry and trotted away.
Caroline began walking down the long hall. After what seemed like hours, and her feet had begun to ache, she saw a table made of sapphire. Upon it was a golden plate, with luscious grapes in it. Suddenly, Caroline felt hungry. She saw a golden goblet of wine beside the grapes, but, since she had been taught about the wrongness of too much wine, she decided not to touch it. She reached for the grapes and began eating.
She looked around. As she was feasting upon the savory fruit, she perceived movement. Turning quickly to look, she saw a tiny door open. Quickly she looked inside. Her head could not even fit through the tiny doorway, but before her she saw a beautiful park, with trees and flowers, and brooks and waterfalls. Birds flew by singing and scolding, and squirrels climbed all over the park.
All of a sudden, she longed more than anything to go in. But she could not! She went back to the table. All that was left was the wine. Well, she would drink a little and see what happened. A little could not harm her.
She took the goblet and drank a bit. It tasted so good; she drank more and more, till it was finished. Then she looked around. The table looked huge! Even the goblet and the plate seemed taller than her. She walked in through the door that was quite large also, and found herself at the park at last. Exhausted, she fell asleep.
When Caroline awoke, she decided to explore the park. She walked to and fro, enjoying herself, till she arrived at a brook. There she saw the Midnight Ladies peacefully grazing. They were covered with adobe dust. Caroline had a feeling that they had just arrived from the Upper World. The mares stepped into the brook and rolled around, splashing each other. When they came out, they were sleek and black, shiny like new.
Caroline walked up to the lead mare, stroked her withers, and said, "My Lady, may I know the password of which I seek?"
The Midnight Lady turned her head and looked at her. "Jasmine, my girl, call me Emerald, for that is my name in the Upper World from whence you came." She lifted a hoof and Caroline saw that her horseshoe was made of emerald.
"Jasmine, my girl, the password is my name in the Lower World, which is Dareme. My girl, I haven't any more time, for I am not a child any more." The mare lowered her head and one tear fell onto the ground. Where the tear had fallen, a rose began to grow. It was a rose whose petals were of many different colors, red and yellow, pink and white, When this blossom opened, a black stallion came out and stood in front of Emerald and Caroline.
They both looked at Caroline. Then Emerald spoke, "Do you see, Jasmine? This stallion is Eclipse in the Upper World. I am not a filly any more, Jasmine, but a mare. My job is now to bare him a foal. Go now, Jasmine. Your fourth battle shall be to find the missing 300 pearls and give them to Epsile of whom you may not know. Dear Jasmine, in this I cannot help you." She whinnied softly and another tear fell to the ground. The ground opened, and Eclipse disappeared into it. It then closed.
"Emerald, will you be in the Upper World then?"
"Yes, I must. I cannot tell you everything. Go now, take my advice and find the Queen of Bees and entice her to give the pearls to thee. Go now, Jasmine."
Caroline hugged the mare around her neck and said softly, "Art thou real in the Upper World?"
"I can tell you nothing. Now go."
Caroline hugged her again and said, "Why callest thou me Jasmine and not Caroline?" As soon as she said this, she wished she had not have.
"Go now, my Jasmine. I plead of thee, go."
Caroline kissed the mare and walked off to find the Queen of Bees.

She had not gone far when she saw a table set for teatime. There were four chairs around it. A cowboy and a bear sat at the table. Caroline went to the table and asked politely, "May I sit with you folks?"
The Cowboy answered roughly, "Where are you from? Certainly not from around here! Right, Bear?"
"I would have to say so, and yet…"
"And yet what?" asked Caroline expectantly. "I'm not."
"What are you saying!" she cried bewildered.
"Let's talk about something else," suggested the Cowboy. "What happens when a poisonous snake bites its tongue?"
"Oh goody, I like riddles. I wonder…Hmm. I quess it wouldn't die would it? I mean, it is his own tongue, after all. - Am I right?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," answered the Cowboy.
"Me neither," answered the Bear.
"Oh, it's one of those without an answer," suggested Caroline.
"Oh yes, it has an answer. They all do, you know," continued the Cowboy.
"Well what do you mean?" asked Caroline more puzzled than ever.
"I mean what I say," he answered.
"But do you say what you mean?" asked the Bear.
"Oh definitely. What's the use of speaking what you don't mean if it's just as easy to say what you do mean."
"But you still haven't told me what you mean!" protested Caroline.
"Oh yes I have," persisted the Cowboy.
Caroline sat still, puzzled and somewhat frustrated. She saw what was on the table. A pumpkin with a hole in its skin was there, sitting on one of the plates.
"Why does this pumpkin have a hole?" she asked.
"Reckon we'll need a pumpkin patch," answered the Cowboy.
Caroline laughed. "That's a good one!"
The Cowboy stared at her. "We knew that. Otherwise they aren't any good."
"Of course. If they aren't any good, I don't want to listen to them," answered Caroline.
"How can you listen to them?" scoffed the Bear. "Do they listen to pumpkins where you come from?"
"Oh you're talking about the pumpkin. I didn't know."
"What were you talking about?" asked the Cowboy.
"About the joke, of course," answered Caroline.
"What joke? I didn't hear it."
"But you were the one that said it! Didn't you catch it?"
"I haven't got my rope."
"What does your rope have to do with the joke?"
"What else?"
"I don't understand what you mean!" she said exasperated.
"I mean what you don't understand."
"If I understand what you mean, I don't understand what you mean," said Caroline, confusing herself.
"I mean what you understand and I mean what you don't understand. Both," answered the Cowboy.
"Let's change the subject. Where does this honey come from?"
"Probably from spelling bees. They're pretty smart."
Caroline laughed. "I meant where do these bees live?"
"In classrooms," answered the Bear taking more than his share of the honey.
"I didn't mean the spelling bees. I meant the bees which made this honey."
"Which bees?" asked the Cowboy.
"The bees that live in the hive that make this honey."
"Do hives make honey?" asked the Cowboy.
"Actually they do," answered the Bear. "I always get my honey from hives. The bees are the guards."
"I learned in science class that bees make honey from the nectar of flowers and store it in the hive."
"I didn't know you could buy it," mused the Bear aloud. "If I had known, I wouldn't be stealing honey from hives."
"Where do you buy it from?" asked the Cowboy.
"From the hives of course," answered the Bear. "She just said that it’s a store."
"I didn't mean that!" answered Caroline. "I meant that…"
"You did say so!" interrupted the Bear. "And I hope you meant what you said!"
"And if you didn't, you ought to at least say what you mean!"
"That's just what I was going to say till the Bear interrupted me. I meant that…"
"You don't know what interruptions are!" shouted the Bear.
"You ought to keep your mouth shut!" snapped the Cowboy.
Close to tears, Caroline got up. "If you all don't have enough…"
"Babababababababababababababbabababababababa…" interrupted the two in unison.
"You are all little sonofabitches that don't care about others in one way or another!" screamed Caroline. She sauntered off, disgusted.
After exploring the park for a while, Caroline came to a huge tree. She looked way up toward its branches. Up there she saw a beehive. "Ah, here is the hive I am looking for!" she told herself excitedly.
On the ground she found two silver spoons. "I know, I shall bang these together. Usually bees will then come."
She banged them together, making a high-pitched metallic sound. A huge Queen Bee and a horde of workers rushed down from the hive toward her. They landed on the ground, on the trunk, and on her! There were so many, but they did not sting her!
"Queen Bee," she said timidly. A huge bee buzzed around her and finally landed on the spoon she was holding.
"What wantest thou that ye come to beseech me, Queen of Bees in the World Below and the World Above. Am I not busy that I must have you come to me?"
"Oh Queen Bee, I need your help, I was sent by Emerald of the Midnight Ladies."
"Emerald." Then Caroline remembered the password. Before she had a chance to speak, the Queen Bee said, "Cursed be Emerald of the Upper World! I know not her, and wish not to know her!"
"I'm sorry, my dear Queen Bee. I am speaking of Dareme, queen of the Midnight Ladies."
"Ah, Dareme told me that a Jasmine was coming this way. Art thou her?"
"Yes, I am Caroline Jasmine."
"Ah, then I shall do all you ask of me."
"I must find the 300 pearls and give them to Epsile."
The Queen Bee whispered to one of her generals. Three hundred bees buzzed away.
"They shall bring them to you. Then shall you find Epsile. Your fifth battle shall be to find Epsile. Epsile, King of the Black Knights. Feared by all, but do not be afraid of him. You are fortunate. You must only give him the pearls, and tell him your password." the Queen Bee flew back to the hive with all her workers.
Then the three hundred bees zoomed in, each carrying a lustrous pearl. They promised to guard them till Caroline found Epsile.

Caroline walked on, hoping to find Emerald. She finally saw an immense palace, glittering in gold and jewels. Caroline walked straight to the gate, where two large lions guarded the entrance. Caroline looked around as the lions roared and threatened to pounce on her.
Then she saw Emerald and Eclipse trotting toward her. Eclipse looked handsome, as his black coat glittered in the sunlight. His eyes were like ruby and his hooves were gold. His mane was intertwined with golden strands, as well as his tail. Caroline had never seen such a gorgeous horse.
They stopped before her. Eclipse snorted and reared. Then he came closer, and his fiery eyes stared right through Caroline.
"Why comest though to these palace walls? Knowest not whose these are?"
"I believe they belong to Epsile, King of the Black Knights."
"I am Epsile," his voice sounded through the palace walls, and the ground shook. The lions roared loudly.
Caroline trembled. "Dareme sent me."
Emerald lowered her head and tears flowed from her eyes to the ground. Caroline wondered what could possibly be the matter.
Eclipse stared at her. "Dareme my darling sent thee? Then shall I listen to you."
Caroline said simply, "I have found the three hundred pearls. They are at the tree of the Queen of Bees."
Eclipse neighed shrilly and five black stallions came galloping up. After some whinnying among them, they galloped away.
"I thank you Jasmine," said Eclipse. He trotted through the palace gate. The gate shut and Caroline was alone with Emerald.
"What is the matter, Emerald?" questioned Caroline, throwing her arms around the silent mare.
"Dear Jasmine, I cannot tell you everything. But I will tell you this, I am tied, captured. Only you can free me."
"I will do anything to make you free, my Emerald. What must I do?"
"Find the Silver Saddles. They are hidden deep within Epsile's palace. Your sixth battle shall be to enter the palace. There are five gates."
"Can you enter?"
"Yes, Jasmine, I am Epsile's queen."
"Can you not then take me in also."
"No. You must find your way in, and I shall greet you. Use the password well, Jasmine."
"Goodbye, Emerald. I shall meet you on the other side," said Caroline tearfully.
She walked around the palace walls to see what could be guarding the other gates. She found out that one was guarded by armed knights, one by two fierce stallions, one by a horde of hornets, and the other was not even guarded. On this one she went to the gate and knocked on it. No one answered.
Caroline tried her key, but it would not work. She went then to the gate with the two stallions. When they saw her, they reared, then charged galloping toward her. She did not budge. They slid to a stop before her.
"Who are you and what do you want?" they snorted.
"I am Caroline Jasmine, and am requesting entrance. Dareme sent me."
"Then enter, you blessed of the Queen Dareme."
Caroline entered, and there was Emerald waiting for her.
"Now what, Emerald?" asked Caroline.
"You must enter the labyrinth and look for Epsile's throne room. This shall be your seventh battle. Take this golden thread and tie it to a jagged stone when you enter. In this way you shall not get lost."
"Thank you Emerald. Can you get in?"
"No my Jasmine. That I cannot do. I am his Queen, but even his queen cannot enter."
"But what if he does not want me in there?"
"That is a risk to take, but you have softened him up somewhat with those pearls. Now go."
Just then another Midnight Lady trotted up. "Let me carry you to the gates of Epsile's throne room. I cannot enter, but I shall be ever faithful to you up to the gates."
"Of course I shall accept. What be your name?"
"Sapphire." She lifted a hoof, revealing her horseshoes of sapphire. Caroline mounted her and entered the Labyrinth. Tying the thread to a stone she descended deeper.
The paths were winding, and she came to dead ends. But she progressed quickly with the string to guide her and Sapphire to ride.
Finally she arrived at a large pearl fence. Sapphire stopped and Caroline dismounted. On the ground, she found a note:

Caroline went to the gate and tried her key in the huge keyhole. It did not work. Caroline looked at Sapphire. The mare whinnied. Behind the closed gate, Caroline heard the pounding of hooves. The huge gate creaked on its hinges and swung open. Caroline ran and jumped onto Sapphire.
Epsile charged out right toward Caroline and Sapphire. Ten black stallions galloped behind him. Caroline turned Sapphire toward them. Sapphire reared and neighed. Epsile stopped before her. The other stallions galloped into the Labyrinth.
"May we enter?" asked Caroline. "I was sent by Dareme."
"Dareme! She has something up her sleeve. So do you! Nay, I must guard the silver saddles!"
Caroline looked at him. Then she kicked Sapphire, turning her around Epsile. They galloped into the throne room. Caroline saw an open door and rushed into it. She heard the pounding of hooves behind her.
"Come on Sapphire, for the sake of the Midnight Ladies!" she cried. Sapphire galloped faster and they entered a long hall. Doors were on every side, but they were open. Caroline galloped in to one and saw before her a parrot perched on top of its cage. This room was a dead end.
As Caroline was about to turn away from the room, the parrot squawked, "Jasmine, Jasmine! The ninth battle shall be to find the room of gold! Jasmine! Jasmine!"
Caroline galloped out and galloped down the hall watching every room they passed. Now Epsile was nearer because of the delay with the parrot. Caroline urged Sapphire faster. She knew Epsile was probably beginning to panic. Finally she arrived at the end of the hall. Before her was a closed door. This had to be the one, yet it was closed and locked.
What could she do?! Epsile was fast approaching and she was trapped!
"Oh Dareme, Dareme!" she cried, panicked.
Suddenly the door opened and right before her was a golden room. She urged Sapphire forward, but the mare refused to budge. Her head dropped low, and she sighed heavily.
Caroline dismounted. "Sapphire, I can do nothing for you now. He comes quickly! What is the matter?"
"I have run too hard. Now go in, my dear and save yourself."
Sapphire lay down. "Will you be fine?" asked Caroline worriedly.
"Only if you find the Silver Saddles."
The sound of Epsile's pounding hooves were quickly approaching. Caroline sprinted into the room and closed the door. There she saw a small door. In the room was a golden table. On it were a golden cake and a golden glass of water. Caroline opened the door. She certainly could not fit through it. She looked in, but all was black. Caroline went back to the table and ate the cake, then drank the water. She was terribly thirsty and hungry.
Caroline then went to the door. The door had grown in size. Inscribed on the door it said,

Caroline opened the door and stepped in. Before her lay a beautiful green meadow with flowers and a brook running through it. Caroline looked around for the silver saddles, but saw nothing but a huge tree that looked exactly like the one she had entered. It even had a large door in it.
Caroline then heard the pounding of hooves. Terrified, she thought of Epsile. But no, it was not Epsile, but the Midnight Ladies galloping toward her. They circled around her, and Emerald stopped beside her. "Where are the Silver Saddles?" asked Caroline of Emerald.
"They shall appear before your eyes when you step underneath that tree," she answered, her eyes sparkling with anticipation.
Caroline went to the tree and stepped beneath it. Five gleaming, silver saddles fell around her. A note floated down and landed on one of the saddles. Caroline took it and read:
Caroline looked at Emerald. "This is from Epsile," she said reverently.
"Yes, but he shall be Epsile no longer, but Eclipse." As soon as she said this, a golden saddle fell from the tree to the ground below. Caroline saddled the five mares and was about to mount Emerald when Eclipse loped up. He looked at Caroline with eager eyes. Caroline saddled him with the golden saddle.
She then mounted Emerald and was about to go through the door when Emerald stopped.
"Jasmine, you must first know the Midnight Ladies' names," she said. One of the mares trotted forward and said, "I am Ruby." She lifted a hoof. Her horseshoe was made of Ruby.
"I am Diamond," said another revealing her Diamond horseshoe.
"I am Violet," said another, showing her violet-colored jewel that made up her horseshoe.
"And you know me, Sapphire," answered Sapphire, her eyes sparkling with joy.
Now Caroline entered through the door and saw before her a long hallway with doors on every side. They were closed.
Emerald trotted forward. Finally they arrived at a staircase. Emerald gingerly stepped up and out a door. Caroline found herself at the dark forest she had arrived at on Emerald before. Then out of the dark shadows came the white-and-black cat.
"Jasmine, I shall go with you. I now can, since you broke my curse."
Then the Cowboy rode up on a paint horse.
"Jasmine, I shall go with you. I now can, since you broke my curse."
Then the Queen Bee buzzed up, followed by her workers.
"Jasmine, I shall go with you. I now can, since you broke my curse."
Then the Bear lumbered up.
"Jasmine, I'm mighty thankful to you. Thankee." Then he went into a lively dance around her.
Caroline smiled. "But how shall I get down to earth, Dareme?"
Caroline saw and felt a mist come over her. White, fluffy clouds swirled around her, and a cool breeze blew. She felt a short gust of wind, then the sting of sand on her face. Sand? There was no sand in this forest! But she could not see the forest. The clouds cleared, then the mist, and she saw that she was back in the New Mexican desert. The full moon was up. She looked around her and saw the Midnight Ladies begin to dance around in a circle around her.
Eclipse reared and leaped, danced and galloped. Caroline dismounted. Emerald reared then gracefully, lightly, danced around in a circle. Caroline now understood.
The Midnight Ladies as well as Eclipse had been trapped in the Lower World. They were allowed into the upper world only at night in the full moon. How happy they were at this time! But, through the finding of the Silver Saddles, they were now free from the curse. Now they could dance and lope, trot and gallop, rear and leap all they wanted to, forever!

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