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Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm just about over the top with excitement! I just learned that Love Thine Enemy is on the Christianbook.com Love Inspired Historical bestseller list! It's also on the fiction bestseller list at CBD. Wow! Thank you to everyone who bought my book. And not only that, but I captured the book cover for my March 2010 release, The Captain's Lady, which is a sequel to Love Thine Enemy. What more can I ask for? I love writing for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. More about The Captain's Lady later.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WE HAVE A WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS TO KATHY CRETSINGER FOR WINNING A COPY OF LOVE THINE ENEMY. I'LL BE GIVING AWAY ANOTHER BOOK ON JULY 31, SO IF YOU HAVEN'T ENTERED, PLEASE DO!!
I'm very excited to announce the release of my new novel Love Thine Enemy from my new publisher, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. This book is special to me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it takes place in my home state of Florida during the Revolutionary War. Did you know that Florida was an English colony at that time? Neither did I until I began researching my state and found that many colonists who were loyal to the English Crown moved here to escape persecution by the Patriot colonists determined to win their freedom from England's King George III. But among those Loyalists were some covert Patriots who came to East Florida in hopes of stirring up a Boston-sized rebellion. Just think how different history would have been if they had succeeded! The United States would have begun with fifteen states (adding East and West Florida) instead of thirteen. Such was not to be. We didn't become a U. S. territory until 1821. But better late than never!

Join me on this adventure into the past.


An excerpt from Love Thine Enemy, Louise M. Gouge
READ CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER ONE
St. Johns Settlement, East Florida Colony, May 1775




Through the window of her father’s store, Rachel watched the Englishmen ride their handsome steeds up the sandy street of St. Johns Settlement. Their well-cut coats and haughty bearing – as if they owned the world – made their identities unmistakable.

“Make them pass by, Lord,” she whispered, “for surely I’ll not be able to speak a Christian word to them if they come in here.” She glanced over her shoulder at Papa to see if he had heard her, but he was focusing his attention on a newly-opened crate of goods.

Rachel turned back to the window. To her dismay, the two young men dismounted right in front of the store. One snapped his fingers at a small black boy and motioned for him to care for the horses.

Her dismay turned to anger. How did they know the boy could take time to do the task? Did they care that the child might be beaten by his owner if he lingered in town?

“What draws yer scrutiny, daughter?” Papa approached to look out the window. “Aha. Just as I hoped. From the cut of his clothes, that’s Mr. Moberly, no mistake. Make haste, child. Go behind the counter and set out those fine tins of snuff and the brass buckles. Oh, and the wig powder and whalebone combs. Mayhap these gentlemen have wives who long for such luxuries here in the wilderness.”

The delight in his voice brought back Rachel’s dismay, even as she hurried to obey. Until six months ago, Papa had been a man of great dignity, a respected whaler who commanded his own ship. Why should he make obeisance to these wretches? These popinjays?

When the two men entered, the jangling bells on the front door grated against her nerves, inciting anger once more. But for Papa’s sake, she would attempt to control it.

“What did I tell you, Oliver? Isn’t this superb?” The taller of the two men glanced about the room. “Look at all these wares.”

Rachel noticed the slight lift of his eyebrows when he saw her, but he turned his attention to Papa.

“Mr. Folger, I presume?”

“Aye, milord, I am he. How may I serve ye, sir?”

The young man chuckled. “First of all, I am not ‘milord.’”

“Not yet.” His companion held his nose high, as if something smelled bad. “But soon.”

The taller man shrugged. “Perhaps when the plantation proves as successful as Lord Egmount’s.” He reached out to Papa. “I’m Frederick Moberly, sir, His Majesty’s magistrate for St. Johns Settlement and manager of Bennington Plantation. This is my friend and business associate, Oliver Corwin.”

For the briefest moment, Papa seemed uncertain, but then he gripped the gentleman’s hand and shook it with enthusiasm. “How do ye, my good sirs? I’m pleased to meet ye both.”

“And I’m pleased to see your fine little store ready for business.” Moberly again surveyed the shelves and counters. And again his glance stopped at Rachel.

Papa cleared his throat. “My daughter, Miss Folger.”

Moberly swept off his brimmed hat and bent forward in a courtly bow, revealing black hair pulled back in a long queue. “How do you do, Miss Folger?”

She forced herself to curtsy but did not speak. The very idea, a gentleman giving a shopkeeper’s daughter such honors. No doubt the man was a flatterer. The one named Corwin made no such gesture, but his intense stare brought heat to her face. Rachel could not decide which man would require her to be more vigilant.

Moberly’s gaze lingered on her for another instant before he turned back to Papa. “Your store and the village’s other new ones are what I’ve been hoping for. If St. Johns Settlement is to succeed as a colonial outpost, we must have every convenience to offer our settlers. Tell me, Folger, do you have any concerns about your shipments? With all that nonsense going on in the northern colonies, do you expect any delay in delivery of your goods?”

“Well, sir, I had no difficulty sailing down here from Boston. I expect all those troubles to be behind us soon. The rebels simply haven’t the resources. I’ll wager wiser heads will prevail. I’m from Nantucket, ye see, and we’re loyal to the Crown.”

Corwin snorted, and Moberly glanced his way with a frown.

“Ah, yes, Nantucket.” The magistrate appeared interested. “From whence whalers set out to harvest the world’s finest lamp oil. Will you be receiving goods from there?”

“Perhaps some, sir. My own ship will sail to and from London until things are settled.”

“Good, good.” Moberly nodded. “And are you a Quaker, as I’ve heard most Nantucketers are?”

“I was reared in the Society of Friends,” Papa said. “But I don’t mind wearing a brass button or a buckle.”

“We don’t need any dissenters here.” Corwin’s eyes narrowed.

“Now, Oliver, the man said he wasn’t a zealot.” Moberly gave Papa a genial look. “Moderation in all things, would you not agree?”

“Precisely my sentiments, sir.”

Rachel inhaled deeply. She must not display her feelings. This was not Nantucket, where women spoke their minds. Nor was it Boston, where patriots – both men and women – clamored for separation from England. Until she got the lay of the land here in East Florida Colony, she must not risk harming Papa’s enterprise.

“Miss Folger.” Moberly approached the wide oak counter behind which she stood. “What do you think of our little settlement?”

She caught a glimpse of Papa’s warning look and stifled a curt reply. “I am certain it is everything King George could wish for.” She ventured a direct look and discovered his eyes to be dark gray edged by black lashes. His tanned, clean-shaven cheeks had a youthful yet strong contour. Young, handsome, self-assured. Like the English officers who ordered the shooting of the patriots at Lexington and Concord just over a month ago.

Her reply seemed to please him, for his eyes twinkled, and Rachel’s traitorous pulse beat faster. Belay that, foolish heart. These are not your kind.

“Indeed, I do hope His Majesty approves of my work here.” A winsome expression crossed his face. “As you may know, in England, younger sons must earn their fortunes. But if we are clever and the Fates favor us, we too can gain society’s interest and perhaps even its approval.”

Rachel returned a tight smile. “In America, every man has the opportunity to earn his fortune and his place in society.” With the help of God, not fate.

He grinned. “Then I’ve come to the right place, have I not?”

The man had not comprehended her insult in the least. How she longed to shake her fist at him and tell him exactly what she thought of his King George and all greedy Englishmen.

Papa emitted a nervous cough. “Indeed ye have, my good sir. And so have we.” Again, his frown scolded her. “Now, sir, is there anything in particular we can help ye with?”

“Hmm.” The magistrate effected a thoughtful pose, with arms crossed and a finger resting on his chin. “My Mrs. Winthrop requested tea, if you have some.” He tapped his temple. “And something else. Oliver, can you recall the other items she mentioned?”

“Flour and coffee.” Corwin’s languid tone revealed boredom, perhaps even annoyance. “She wanted a list of his spices, and of course she’ll want to know about those fabrics.” He waved toward the crates Papa had opened.

At Papa’s instruction, Rachel wrote down the items they had imported from Boston, things an English housekeeper might want here in the wilderness. She snipped small samples of the linen, muslin, and other fabrics and wrapped them in brown paper. All the while, she felt the stares of the two men. Despite the summer heat, a shiver ran down her back while a blush warmed her cheeks.

None too soon, they made their purchases and left, but not before Mr. Moberly once again bowed to her. Why did he engage in such courtesy? Neither in England nor in Boston would he thus have honored her, nor even have acknowledged her existence.

“Well, daughter, what think ye?” Papa held up the gold guineas they had given him. “His lordship didn’t even ask for credit.”

“Papa, will you listen to yourself?” Rachel leaned her elbows on the counter and rested her chin on her fists. “You were raised a Quaker, yet hear how you go on about ‘milord’ and ‘his lordship.’”

Papa harrumphed. “I suppose ye’ll be after me to take up my ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ again. Ye, who abandoned the Friends yerself, going off to that other church with yer sister and her husband.” He lumbered on his wounded leg toward the back room. “I should never have sent ye to Boston to live with Susanna.”

He disappeared behind the burlap curtain, and soon Rachel heard crates being shoved roughly across the hard tabby floor. Sorrow cut into her. Had he not been injured on his last whaling voyage, he could still captain his own ship, and she would still be in Boston helping the patriots’ noble cause. Instead, she must live here in East Florida to help him.

He must feel as cross as she did about their differences of opinion, both about the revolution and the Englishmen. But she had not chosen to flee Massachusetts Colony to avoid the war against the Crown. How could he expect her to treat the English oppressors with civility?

#

“Pleasant fellow, that Folger.” Frederick flipped a farthing to the Negro boy who held their horses. “Good job, lad. If you get into trouble, tell your master Mr. Moberly required your services.”

“Pleasant fellow, indeed.” Oliver grasped his horse’s reins and swung into the saddle. “’Tis the little chit you found pleasant.”

“And you did not?” Frederick mounted Essex and reined the stallion toward the plantation road. “I saw you watching her as if she were a plump partridge and you a starving man.”

Oliver drew up beside him. “Of course I was watching her. Your father sent me along to this heaven-forsaken place to make sure no provincial lass sets her cap for you. And if she does, I’m to nip the budding romance.”

Frederick swallowed a bitter retort. Oliver’s reminder ruined the agreeable feeling that had settled in his chest the moment he set eyes on the fair-haired maiden. Here he was at twenty-three, and the old earl still treated him as if he were a boy sitting in an Eton classroom. As for the girl, she was no chit, but fully a woman, possessing a diminutive but elegant figure. Spirited, too, from the liveliness he had noticed in her fine dark eyes. But he would not say so, for Oliver would only misunderstand his generous opinion of her.

“Have no care on that account. I’ve no plans to pursue American women.” He glanced at the rolling landscape with its sandy soil and countless varieties of vegetation. While the weather could inflict heat, lightning, and hurricanes upon inhabitants, he found East Florida a pleasant paradise, as satisfying as anyplace for building his future.

“You cannot fool me,” Oliver said. “Need I remind you that if you fail here, Lord Bennington will ship you off to His Majesty’s Royal Navy? You’ll end up wearing the indigo instead of growing it.”

Frederick glared at him. “Fail? My father sent me to rescue the plantation from Bartleby’s mismanagement, and that’s exactly what I have accomplished. He will not be quick to snatch me home.”

“You know as well as I it’s the moral failure he’s concerned about.”
Frederick gritted his teeth. How long would he have to pay for the sins of his older brothers? “Rest easy on that account. I’ll not risk my business association with Mr. Folger by dallying with his daughter. However, if you will recall, we’re supposed to be building a settlement here. Before we can bring English ladies to this wilderness, we must provide necessary services. This man Folger may have friends up north who want no part in the rebellion. We must court him, if you will, to lure other worthies to East Florida Colony, even if it means socializing with the merchant class.”

Oliver regarded him with a skeptical frown. “Just be certain you don’t socialize with the little Nantucket wench while you await those English ladies.”





Love Thine Enemy
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
July 2009, ISBN - 13: 978-0-373-82815-9
Available at Walmart, your local bookstore, and online bookstores.

If you would like to win a copy of Love Thine Enemy, please leave a comment AND your email address so I can notify you if you win.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Warm, Life-affirming Historical Novel!

CONGRATULATIONS TO Sherrinda Ketchersid FOR WINNING A COPY OF THE PREACHER'S WIFE!!!

This month, I'm delighted to present The Preacher's Wife by Cheryl St. John. Cheryl is one of my fellow Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical authors. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end. No wild chases or explosions, just a solid story of how God works in those who surrender their lives to Him. Here's the story:
There was nothing remotely romantic about widowed father Samuel Hart's marriage proposal. Yet Josie Randolph said yes. The Lord had finally blessed the lonely widow with the family she'd always dreamed of. And she was deeply in love with the handsome preacher, whose high ideals inspired everyone. Surely during their long journey across the western plains to his new post her husband would grow to love her. Each mile brought them closer to home, yet drove them further apart. Samuel didn't seem ready to open his heart again. But Josie was determined to be not just the preacher's wife, but Samuel's wife.

An excerpt from The Preacher’s Wife, Cheryl St.John
READ CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER ONE
Durham, Nebraska, June 1869


Only her husband's physical body lay beneath the lush grass in the fenced-in cemetery behind the tiny white church. His spirit had gone on to be with the Lord, but her mother-in-law insisted that Sunday afternoons were for paying respects to the dead. Josephine Randolph knelt and pulled a fledgling weed from beside the flat piece of granite engraved with her husband's name.

Margaretta slipped a lace-edged hankie from the hidden pocket of her emerald-green dress and dabbed her eyes. "He was too young," she said for the thousandth time. "Too young to lose his life."

Josie nodded. It had been three years, and while she had mourned her husband's death and missed his company, there were no tears left. She had loved him. She had been a good wife. But in his affections she had always taken second place to her mother-in-law. She hastened to remind herself that losing a son or daughter was devastating. Margaretta had lost her only child. Of course the woman was still suffering.

"It would be easier if I could take comfort in the fact that he'd left behind a living legacy."

Knowing and dreading what was coming next, Josie got up and brushed her palms together.

Margaretta sniffed into her hankie. "Your inability to give me a grandchild is almost more than I can bear."

Josie turned her gaze to the countryside, spotted an orange and black butterfly and watched it flutter on the breeze as she steeled herself.

"A child would have been a part of him I could hold on to. If only right now I could be caring for a little boy or girl with Bram's features. I would have so loved to watch him grow. His child would have been such a comfort to me."

Josie wanted to cry, too. She wanted to rail at the woman who made her feel every inch as insignificant as her son had. Didn't Margaretta think a child would have been a comfort to her, as well? Didn't she know that Josie's loneliness was eating her up on the inside? Didn't she think Josie wanted more out of life than… than… this?

Momentarily, she closed her eyes against the painfully blue summer sky. She'd never wanted anything more than a family of her own. She'd spent her entire childhood waiting for her circuit-judge father to return home. The times he had, he'd spared her only meager attention before leaving again.

Because Bram Randolph had been a local newspaperman, she'd known he wouldn't be a traveler. She'd married him with the hope of a secure future. Time had proven Bram more concerned with the whims of Margaretta than the needs of his young wife, however. And that was the simple fact.

"You are coming to the house for dinner, aren't you?"

And be exposed to yet another opportunity for Margaretta to pursue her weekly harangue about Josie's barrenness? Josie opened her eyes. "I'm fixing a stew for Reverend Martin," she replied matter-of-factly. "I'll stay and keep him company."

"He seems to be recovering well." Margaretta smoothed the fingers of her beaded gloves. "Whatever you're doing must be working."

Josie managed a smile. "God's doing His part, too."

Margaretta gathered the hem of her voluminous skirt and walked across the thick spring grass toward the street.

Josie glanced down and read the headstone again. "Beloved son and husband." Not father. Sometimes she felt so incomplete, so alone. She hadn't given her husband children, and for that glaring inadequacy, Margaretta would never forgive her.

"Have a good afternoon!" she called after the woman.

Margaretta delivered a tepid wave and continued marching toward her home a few blocks away. Josie experienced the same relief she always did when her obligatory mourning session and weekly dressing-down was over. At least she'd had a good reason to forgo lengthening the torment by joining the woman for a meal. Margaretta's house had a cold, depressing atmosphere that matched the woman's attitude.

Josie glanced at the bright blue sky with a longing that was rising up so swift and strong that the ache took her breath away. She'd prayed for contentment, but she needed more than this. When she didn't keep busy enough, she daydreamed of impossible things.…

Taking a deep breath, Josie made her way with renewed purpose to the shaded two-story house beside the church. She climbed the back porch steps and let herself in. She'd started a stew earlier, and now checked the savory broth, adding water and salt.

"It's Josie!" she called, removing her bonnet and sweeping along the hallway toward the front of the house.

"Who else would be banging pans in my kitchen?" came the good-natured reply.

She found Reverend Martin in his study, seated where she'd left him, on an overstuffed chair with a plaid wool blanket tucked around his legs. He closed his Bible and removed his spectacles, setting both aside. Last March he'd fallen from the roof of the church while replacing shingles, and had broken several bones, including his collarbone and ribs. A particularly severe break in his leg had become infected, and he'd been bedridden with a fever for weeks. Eventually he'd recovered, and was only now able to move from his bed to the study. The town doctor said it would likely be several more weeks before he'd be strong enough to resume his duties.

She'd always considered him a mentor, but these past weeks had made them friends, as well. "The fire's died down," she said. "I'll get a few logs."

"I can't seem to get warm." He was paler and thinner than before the accident, and the change in such a vital, life-loving man was heartbreaking. The man was probably only in his late thirties, but these past weeks had taken a toll. Josie had dedicated herself to seeing him recover to his former self.

"The stew will warm you from the inside out," she assured him. She took two split logs from the box beside the fireplace and knelt to add them to the fire, then used the poker to adjust the wood until the flames caught and licked up around the sides. The bark snapped in the blaze. Warmth spread from the hearth to where the reverend was sitting.

"That's nice," he said with a grateful smile. "I barely have time to realize a need before you've seen to it."

"It's a privilege to help."

"And a help you are. I don't know what I would do without you."

"God would send someone. But I was available."

He chuckled. "You're a woman of great faith, Josie, but you count yourself a little short."

She seated herself on a nearby ottoman.

"A lot of people are available," he told her. "Few are willing."

She never doubted that God was taking care of the reverend. It was when she thought of her own needs that her confidence got a little shaky. "How about a game of checkers before dinner?" she asked.

He gave her a mock frown and flicked his hand as though shooing away a fly. "Do you think I enjoy your kings chasing my last disk around the board, delaying the inevitable?"

She laughed. "Oh, come now. You win sometimes."

"Only if you feel particularly sorry for me and deliberately pass up chances to jump. We need a new game, one I have a hope of winning."

"Based on chance, rather than skill, Reverend?"

"Didn't I see you and James setting up the board the other evening?"

James, a fatherless lad of about fourteen, came by a few times a week to split wood and perform a few other chores. Josie had quickly sensed that, because his mother worked evenings at the café, James was lonely. She'd offered to teach him the game. "You did. He's fast becoming an apt opponent."

The reverend's enormous calico leaped from its spot on the divan to run through the doorway into the nearest bedroom.

"Must be a caller," the reverend said.

Most everyone knocked at the back door and then walked in, but a rap sounded at the front. Josie and the reverend exchanged a puzzled glance before she got up.

A broad-shouldered man in a brown hat and buckskin jacket stood in the dappled sunlight that filtered through the leaves of the twin maple trees. She had a sudden, swift impression of troubled intensity as his gaze bored into hers.

"Good afternoon, sir," Josie greeted him.

He removed his hat, revealing thick chestnut hair in need of a cut. "Ma'am," he said in greeting. "I'm Samuel Hart. The preacher sent by the First Christian Alliance."

Behind him, three girls of varying ages waited in the street near a dusty team attached to a canvas-covered wagon.

His name registered immediately. "Of course! Come in."

He turned and summoned the girls, the fringe of his jacket swaying as he gestured. The girls she assumed were his daughters were wearing clean but wrinkled clothing, and their hair was neatly tucked beneath stiff-brimmed bonnets.

He handed her his hat, still warm from his head, and she laid it on the hall table before ushering the little troupe into the study. "The interim preacher is here," she said.

Samuel strode forward and shook the elder man's hand. His size and his sun-darkened face and hands made the reverend seem even sicklier in comparison. "Pleased to meet you, sir. These are my daughters. Elisabeth."

Elisabeth was the tallest and oldest, with blue eyes and a full face. Her weary smile was hesitant.

"Abigail." The middle daughter had hair a paler blond than the other two, blue eyes, a narrow face and a prominent chin.

"And Anna." The youngest of the trio possessed wide hazel eyes and a charming smattering of freckles.

A look of confusion wrinkled Reverend Martin's brow. "Josie, didn't the letters say that Samuel was traveling with his wife and family?"

Josie had recalled the same thing. Before she could answer, Samuel Hart said, "My wife died on the way."

The snapping fire was the only sound for a moment.

Anna slipped her hand into Abigail's and the three girls huddled closer, their expressions somber, the pain of their loss evident.

"I'm deeply sorry," Reverend Martin said.

Samuel nodded curtly, the subject apparently closed.

"This is Josephine Randolph." The reverend indicated Josie with a nod. "God sent her to me. She cooks, takes care of the house, does my laundry—she even handled my bills and mail while I was laid up."

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am."

It was inappropriate that she should notice his well-defined cheekbones or his recently shaved, firm, square chin, but she had. Even his deep, rich voice arrested her attention. But his eyes…she'd never seen so much suffering in a person's eyes, and the sight carved a confusing ache inside her chest.

Samuel turned his gaze to look pointedly at his daughters.

One at a time, they said, "Pleased to meet you."

Glad for the distraction, she said, "You've arrived just in time for dinner. I trust you're hungry. Would you like to help me make biscuits?"

" I would," Abigail said with a bright smile.

Watching his daughters' hesitation and discomfort pained Sam. He hoped the pretty young woman's friendly welcome made this day a trifle easier than the rest. The past weeks had been grueling, both physically and emotionally. "All of you will help Mrs. Randolph," he called after them.

Over her shoulder, Anna cast him a wide-eyed glance, her expression so much like his late wife's that it made his breath hitch in his chest.

Reverend Martin indicated the settee. "Have a seat."




If you would like to win a copy of The Preacher's Wife, please leave a comment AND your email address so I can notify you if you win.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Choose the title and the heroine’s name for my latest novel!

Please note that there are two contests and two places to post your entries in the “comment” links.

Enter the contest to name the heroine in my upcoming Love Inspired Historical novel (July 2009). See the Book Info below to help your creativity. Please make certain your name is appropriate to the era, 1775. The winning name will be chosen by Steeple Hill editor Melissa Endlich on August 1, 2008. Prizes will be LIH books by Catherine Palmer and Jillian Hart. In case of duplication, the first person entering the name will be declared the winner. Please click on “comments” to enter.

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Book Title

Enter the contest to choose a title for my upcoming Love Inspired Historical novel (July 2009). See the Book Info below to help your creativity. The winning title will be chosen by Steeple Hill editor Melissa Endlich on August 1, 2008. Prizes will be LIH books by Catherine Palmer and Jillian Hart. In case of duplication, the first person entering the title will be declared the winner. Please click on “comments” to enter.

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Book Info

In May 1775, while all of her friends in Boston are preparing their stand against the British, Nantucket-born patriot Miss Folger must accompany her father to the savage wilderness of East Florida, far from the growing American Revolution. In this new English colony, where great riches await the man willing to fight for them, Miss Folger soon finds herself deeply attracted to an English aristocrat who embodies all that she despises. Will she follow her heart or her profoundly held beliefs? Frederick Moberly, youngest son of an English earl, has a rare chance to make a fortune growing indigo in the new British colony of East Florida. As his labors for the Crown prove fruitful, he dreams of a bride from the upper class and perhaps even knighthood. But a spirited American woman soon inspires new dreams, and Frederick begins to question the very foundations of his life – and his faith.

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